September & October 2018

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

Lately I've been spending some time with Psalm 46. Well, actually, just a portion of verse 10: Be still and know that I am God!

Jesus understood the 'be still' part. Throughout his ministry he sought solitude and quiet places to pray.

Matthew 14:22-23 (The Message)

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Mark 1:35-37 (NRSV)

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.  And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you."

Luke 5:15-16 (The Message)

Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.

John 6:15 (NRSV) (after feeding the 5,000)

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Four different Gospels. Four stories from different points in Jesus' ministry. One commonality: Jesus valued quiet, solitary time for reflection and prayer and renewal. Jesus was, I'm pretty sure, an introvert. Introverts, despite what some think, are quite capable of standing up in front of a crowd or a congregation every Sunday and delivering a message.  But that forced extroversion takes a toll. Many pastor friends take what they call ‘the Preachers Sunday Afternoon Nap.’

Sometimes people tell me that although we proclaim that God is Still Speaking, they're not hearing anything. I believe that God IS still speaking, but I think we've forgotten how to listen, because listening happens best in solitude, in quiet, in prayer. Which, not coincidentally, is completely at odds with our noisy, frantic, regimented world. Our cell phones, laptops, Netflix, and hyper scheduled children all conspire to keep us busy - and inattentive.

Aristotle had it right when he said "The goal of action is contemplation." It's OK to be busy, and we have accomplished much in our busyness, but being busy is not the end to itself.

In September our church revs back up, with Sunday morning Faith Formation for kids beginning, adult education opportunities starting, Advent planning underway, mission opportunities, and we are over programmed and over committed. Please remember to also plan to Be Still - to set aside quiet time that shall not be otherwise scheduled - at least temporarily and occasionally. I invite you to set aside time for solitude, for quiet, for reflection, for prayer. See if perhaps it isn't easier to hear if we're really listening. Create a space where you can invite our Still Speaking God to communicate in the voice we can only hear when quiet and undistracted.

After all, it worked for Jesus.


Pastor Jim


Stewardship Campaign 2019 - Sharing the Gifts we Have​​​​​​​

Every fall we begin the Stewardship drive, when the finances and plans and programs are pushed for the next year.

There are a few misconceptions about the Stewardship drive.

It is not “us” asking “you”. The Stewardship team, working with the other church governing teams and boards, plan the Stewardship Campaign. But “we”—the Stewardship team—are “you”—the Congregation. We’re in the pews on Sunday, sitting beside you and worshipping. The request we ask of “you” is the request we ask of “us”. “We” all must make the same decisions based on our ability and commitment.

What is a pledge? This is not like mortgage or new car purchase. A pledge is an estimate, nothing more, of what you would consider giving. The purpose of the pledge is so that our church can plan for next year’s budget, based on the funds pledged.

For that reason, we ask for a pledge even if the amount is zero. All pledges are confidential, and there can be many reasons why can’t pledge, or can’t pledge much. This information is not released to anyone outside a select few, who are bound not to release pledges by name.

Why pledge? The church does a lot more than provide a building, Sunday School, social events and Christian services. [“Well said, Captain Obvious.”] But the additional services to the church and community may not be so obvious. Amy Streeter of Colorado Springs presented the not-so-obvious purposes of the church:

  • The Church is a connection point for Christian living. Atkinson Congregational is part of the oldest social media system in the world. Like the internet, the church is a place to exchange ideas, share news, support each other, and learn from each other. Unlike the impersonal internet, nothing stands between you and the “social media” church.
  • Churches help identify those in need. Your pledge helps support World Hunger, Kimi Nichols, the Food Bank, Homeless Shelters, and other needs. These groups would have no way to communicate their needs without our church to turn to.
  • Our church serves our community. We are living witnesses by our actions and presence in the community. Whether it be in Kimball Library, Atkinson Academy, scouting, or serving on town committees, we are doing God’s work AND providing help, faith, and stability to the public organizations that depend on volunteers like our church.

As you consider your pledge for 2019, please take the time to weigh the benefits and needs of your church, and pledge accordingly.

Yours in Christ,

Kay Galloway, Chair

Jennifer Howe

Pete McVay

Pastor Jim Thomas


Online Giving is now available!


We've entered the 21st century! You can make contributions to our church electronically. It is safe, easy, and convenient, and at no cost to you. You can even schedule to fulfill your pledge with weekly or monthly automatic contributions, which can be drawn from a checking or savings account, or a debit or credit card. 


To get started - click on the green button, follow the instructions to set-up your profile, and set your first donation.  If you have any questions please contact Dina Williams or Hank Riehl.

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, 

Dina Williams


Summer never fails to pass quickly. We enjoyed four wonderful vesper services, each focused on an aspect of love. Deacon Co-Chair Shirley Reed’s reflection, “Love God,” was supported by Kathy Jerome’s lovely music. Karen Landry led the second reflection, “Love God’s Word,” followed by Deacon Co-Chair Vikki Quick’s message of “Love God’s People,” enhanced beautifully by Max Orio’s singing and guitar playing. Pastor Jim led the final vesper service, “Love God’s Purpose in the World.” Love, as Pastor Jim noted, plays the biggest role of God’s purpose in the world, above all.

One Year Anniversary

While summer expectedly flew by, the same seems to apply to another milestone – Pastor Jim’s first year! Since delivering his first sermon as our settled pastor last Oct. 15, we continue to be blessed and thankful that God chose him and Lynn to be amongst us! Our congregation has been vibrant for many years but hasn’t been immune to challenges relating to church growth. However, with Pastor Jim on board, in addition to strong, creative teams in place to help overcome challenges, we’re in a good place! It also feels fantastic to have a renewed focus on serving our local communities. Things like our comfort station during the Atkinson Town-Wide Yard Sale, as well as our support and participation in the Sonshine Soup Kitchen, are two service-oriented examples.

From a Sunday-to-Sunday perspective, we’re making headway on ensuring consistent support for Fellowship Hour. It continues to be a work in progress, with congregants serving as hosts or lovingly signing up to bring refreshments. We’re appreciative of every person who signs up, as well as those who sign up to be greeters and scripture readers. We look forward to more folks volunteering in these ways.


As deacons, we’re proud to serve and help promote the spiritual life of the congregation. At any time, please bring to any of the deacons’ attention a particular need you may have for a friend, loved one, or even yourself. We’re here to help with visits or outreach such as cards, phone calls, grocery-store shopping or other forms of assistance.


As we move through fall, a nice scripture to keep in mind is as follows:   “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” – 2 Samuel 22:33


In joyful service, Shirley Reed, Vikki Quick, Joe Churchman Gloria Dodge, Jeanne Elliott, Sue Goodman, Jane Goodwin, Dina Williams and Mark Miller

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.


Vacation Bible Camp is one of the biggest events of the year here at ACC, attracting families from the community and spreading the word of God through fun and inspirational activities. This year we hosted about 35 kids for our camp, whose theme was: Shipwrecked; Saved by Jesus. Many thanks to Nancy Monahan for spearheading the event and to all the adults and teens who worked on decorations, volunteered on staff for the week and helped clean up. We can’t thank you enough for helping make this wonderful event happen, year after year!


Two of our youth—Bailey Orio and Katie Burke—spent a week at the UCC camp called Horton Center Camp in Gorham, NH. They participated in the “Arts on the Mountain” camp, where they enjoyed the performing and the visual arts, as well as traditional camp activities, all while growing in faith. They tell us that they can’t wait to go again next year! The camp offers programs to all ages, including family camp weeks.


During Summer Kids Club this year, we worked on a project called Kindness Rocks. Children from ages 2-16 helped paint smooth rocks. Then, they generated quite a list of kind messages to write on the rocks. On August 19, we went around town and hid the rocks! Our hope is that the messages will spread kindness to others. The adults and children that worked on this project really enjoyed it!

Summer was a time for cleaning and organizing at Tuthill House, in preparation for the new church school year. It also was a time for researching and selecting new curriculum for all grade levels. The two younger groups, PK-grade 5, will be using the Whirl Lectionary curriculum. Their lessons are based on the same readings and messages that the adults hear in church, allowing families to better discuss what is learned. Their lessons include a different short, fun and meaningful video each week. The older students, grades 6-12, will be trying two new programs this fall. For the first six weeks, they will be learning from the Nooma Video Series that was used for Exploring Faith last year. This will be followed by a six-week session based on the GenerationWhy curriculum. The students will choose which topic to try, such as: Do miracles really happen? or, How to be a true friend.


We have begun to collaborate with three area UCC churches to develop a youth group for students in grades 6-12. We will be rotating through the churches and will do field trips and service projects. Another exciting event in the works is a summer week-long missions trip for teens. There is a lot to look forward to this year!


Faith Formation for adults is growing as well. Every other Sunday, the adults will continue to work with the book Design of the Scriptures. On alternating Sundays, adults are welcome to try a new lectionary-based curriculum called Seasons, which allows people to dive into the lectionary readings for the week just before hearing the same

messages at church. Pastor Jim will also continue with Exploring Faith on Sunday evenings.


We look forward to the new church school year and all it has in store for adults and children alike.



Patty Cole, Faith Formation Director


The Trustees have handled several issues this summer with several more pending. Most noteworthy are:


1. Preparations for Rally Sunday September 9. Thanks to the Vitality crew and others, the annual event is taking on a higher profile with the larger community. We have high hopes for great attendance.

2. Finances continue to be a challenge, as it takes more to operate at current levels than we take in. The Trustees look to avoid or defer spending wherever possible, without compromising safety or creating costlier problems down the road. We appreciate all that committee members do to minimize spending as well, while fulfilling our overall mission.

3. Hank Riehl is stepping down as Trustee to return to Co-Treasurer, while Ray Zegarski has agreed to fill-in the remainder of Hank's Trustee term. Formal ratification will be posed at the next Executive Committee meeting.

4. New crosses were "planted" in our outdoor sanctuary.  Many thanks to our outstanding Sexton Bob Hodgdon who built them, and his installation helper Bill Ball.


5. The side door in Lovejoy Hall has rotted and will be replaced.

6. The parsonage grounds have some areas that are seriously overgrown and discussions continue on how to simplify the grounds maintenance and improve their appearance. We are trying to be sensitive to memorial plantings, but information on memorial items is spotty at best. 

7. Having a consistent nursery attendant each Sunday has been deemed very important to attracting and retaining younger families. Yet the funding is a challenge. Different committees are stepping up to help underwrite the $50 per week expense, but it would also be a great way for members to make an earmarked donation (that is in addition to their annual pledge). Simply note on your check or envelope that the gift is to be earmarked for Nursery coverage.



Bill Ball, Hank Reihl, Jay Goodman,  Linda Churchman, Adele Dillon


Welcome Jane

The Music Director Search Team is pleased to announce that Jane Goodwin has been brought on board as the interim Chancel Choir and Atkinson Ringers Director! Jane will serve until a Music Director is hired.

We are also excited to announce the formation of our new all ages handbell choir, "Family Ringers." This group will welcome ringers of all ages and abilities.

Please see Jane Goodwin for more information about any of our music programs, or email her at:

Currently Seeking Permanent Music Director/Organist

We are currently accepting resumes for our Music Director/Organist position! Follow the link for more information.

Please share this job description with anyone you think might be interested or know someone who might be interested. might be interested!


So many wonderful activities are going on right now! Missions volunteers have worked every month this summer at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry, NH. Emmaus House was the focus of our most recent Mission Moment during Sunday service. We will present another Mission Moment in October along with a brand new Bulletin Board which will focus on Going Forward in our Missions efforts. Container Days NuDays Syria will be highlighted in the coming weeks.


We exhibited current Mission programs during Rally Sunday and the Open House.  Thank you to all that signed up to volunteer for a program.  If you missed the volunteer opportunities, please check the boards in Lovejoy Hall.  Here you will find out all about what we do at Missions and see how we as a congregation have assisted others in need. You can also find out how you might help with these efforts, too.


The team is in full planning mode for the Annual Harvest Supper.  Sign-up sheets to help are found in Lovjoy Hall.  Details are found here on Facebook.  Please go to the event - like and share it to your network of friends on Facebook.

Missions made monetary donations to St. Anne’s Food Pantry, Salem Caregivers and Community Caregivers.  We are looking to you to help us identify our next program.  Please reach out to any member of the Mission team with your ideas.


Your's in Christ, Linda Fisher, Cheryl Riehl, Jennifer Howe, Holly Weinberger


Have you read about us lately?

Is she “Scoop Quick” or does she get the “Quick Scoop”?  I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but Atkinson Congregational has consistently been in the Carriage Towne News (CTN) with a fresh article almost weekly.  A few months ago, Vikki Quick agreed to take on the volunteer role of Public Relations for the church.  In years past, our wonderful and much missed Deacon Bernice Chavers was diligent about keeping the community abreast of ACC happenings.  Since she has not been able to do that, we have felt the PR void.  Part of keeping our ministry relevant is to publicize all that we do and who we are.   Thankfully, Vikki is willing to share her incredible, God-given writing skills to help us do His work.   Here are just a few recent examples and links to the full articles of her CTN work:

If anyone has any ACC news to share outside our walls – send it to Vikki! We love you very much and thank you, Vikki, for taking on this critical “unsung hero” role. 

Dinner with the Thomas’ – LOOKING FOR OUR NEXT HOST/S

Another successful Dinner with the Thomas’!  Thank you, Wenkle & Teri Holmes, who hosted 4 guests at their home along with Pastor Jim & Lynn on August 18th.   Such a wonderful way to get to know one another even better.  Please let me know (Julianna) if you are interested in hosting a group of 8-10 dinner guests: 603-362-4321 or

Rally Day/Open House a SUCCESS

Vitality, in conjunction with the Trustees, decided to give our annual Rally Day a new name and an infusion of new activity! In addition to our annual cook-out under the tent, games for kids on the lawn, and Faith Formation registration, Lovejoy Hall was set-up to display all the different committees and teams that make “The Light on the Hill” shine!  Thanks to all those who manned a fall-themed (Thank you, Linda Fisher) table to answer questions and offer up so many wonderful ways our congregants can serve both inside and outside of our walls.   Special thanks to Kristen Diamond and her son Zach for setting up the Hall and all the great banner and social media promoting prior to September 9th.   Thanks also to all who brought food in for the food pantry.  What a great way to welcome back old members and welcome in new!

Comfort Station/Yard Sale, Saturday, 9/15/18

It’s not too late to join Kathy Elliott and her team to work a few hours at the church on Saturday, 9/15/18, to meet & greet the community when they stop in to our “Comfort Station”.   Or, we’re also still accepting food/drink donations for the snacks we will be giving away.   Free-will Donations for the snacks and yard sale tables will be graciously accepted to 100% benefit our Sonshine Soup Kitchen mission.   Please contact Kathy directly if you have any questions:  

Scarecrow Season is Upon Us

How will our three scarecrows look this year? Bride and Groom with a pastor? Jesus, Mary and Joseph? Or something completely different like a rock and roll band? Right now they are just three sticks with burlap heads. We need a small team of people willing to decorate them - no experience necessary.  Please contact Kim Ridley at if you would like  to help.

Paul Nickerson Weekly Tips

Although we no longer actively participate with Paul Nickerson’s Reaching New People program, I still receive his weekly tips.   Linked here is one that I would like to share.

And finally…. Pray!

As we begin another church year and enter in to the end of a fiscal year, let’s remember to pray for each other, our community and the future of our church.  We have an important congregational meeting this Sunday, 9/16.  Change can feel scary.  Staying with what we know maintains homeostasis, a state humans innately strives to maintain.  But Jesus reminds us that change is GOOD even when it seems bad.  That the basis for all Christians is renewal and new beginnings.  Faith without prayer is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute.   So please, pray that we continue to do His will; that we can respect one another even when we disagree.  Pray that we will be blessed with financial stability and vitality when we act out of abundance and not scarcity, trusting that we are doing His will.  And that God has this and we are One.  Amen.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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