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                                       John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

   Vol. 3, Issue 1         Phippsburg Congregational Church (UCC), Phippsburg, ME                             February 2010

                “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”
                                           Rev. Mark D. Wilson, Pastor and Teacher

                                             A message from our Pastor
Groundhog Day
An old Scottish poem says this . . .
As the light grows longer The cold grows stronger.
If Candlemas day be fair and bright Winter will have another flight;
If Candlemas Day be clouds and rain Winter be gone and will not come again.
A farmer should, on Candlemas Day Have half his corn and half his hay.
On Candlemas Day if the thorns hang adrop You can be sure of a good pea crop.
   What is Candlemas? It’s the 40th Day after Christmas, February 2nd. It is, in the high church calendar, the last date of
the Christmas celebration. I know we live in Maine and all, where Valentine’s Day is often the day our Christmas lights
are taken down, if then, but in a perfect world you are supposed to have your decorations down by February 2. As the
name “Candle Mass” suggests, it is the day when candles are blessed for the year.
   As with most Christian holy days, some say there is another holy day behind it. In this case, it is the Celtic or Gaelic
festival of Imbolc - “in milk” or “in the belly” - celebrating the birth and nursing of the first lamb; the first signs of spring.
In Ireland, Feb. 2 is St. Brigid’s Day, Brigid being one of those pagan/Christian mix of saints. There are many traditions
associated with St. Brigid’s Day, Brigid the patron saint of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. In some places even today in
Ireland you can be sure homes will let their fires go out, rake the ashes, and in the morning look for some sign Brigid has
come, like leaving cookies out for Santa. Pieces of clothing are left outside the door for Brigid to bless. They are
considered special after this day. St. Brigid even has her own cross: the cross of rushes.
   February 2 in the church calendar is also the day celebrated as The Presentation of The Lord; the day Jesus was
presented at the Temple in Jerusalem by Mary, his mother, because she was now able to come to the Temple having
completed the Jewish rite of purification after childbirth. Thus, in some churches February 2 is celebrated as The Feast of
the Purification of the Virgin. Take a moment and read the story for yourself in Luke 2:22-40.
   And yes, in Germany and America February 2 is Groundhog Day. If there is good weather, the groundhog will see his
or her shadow, which means bad weather ahead. If it is an overcast or stormy day and the groundhog does not see his or
her shadow, the winter will be mild from now on. How many more weeks of winter will there be? Six. Why six? On the
Julian calendar, the vernal equinox was March 16, which, if you do the math from Feb. 2, is 6 weeks. When Pennsylvania
was settled by a large contingent of German immigrants, they brought the tradition of Groundhog Day with them. There
is a wonderful movie titled “Groundhog Day” that we watched here a year or two ago. The movie is about a man who is
cursed to relive the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over again until he learns how to love and how to be someone
who is capable of being loved. Because of the film, “Groundhog Day” has entered our popular lexicon as a word for the
idea that you are living the same day over and over again. This ties in with our other February 2nd celebrations as being a
moment of balance between the seasons, a moment of new birth, of presentation, and of purification.
   By the time you read this, Groundhog Day - Candlemas - the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin - The Presentation
of The Lord - Imbolc - St. Brigid’s Day - will be past. Even so, I’ve offered this to you because you are living today,
now, in a time post-presentation; post-purification; a time on the downhill side of winter, a time when the world has
tipped toward the light, and you might not know it. You do now. You might be at a point in your life when you wake up
and every day feels more or less the same. It’s easy in winter to feel like that. February 2nd reminds us, though, that
every day we wake up is also a day for us to change, to improve, to reflect, to do better, to be more faithful, more loving,
more kind. The Lamb of God has been born into the world and is nursing. He’s been presented to us, and because of that,
we’ve been purified; forgiven. If you see your shadow, that’s because the sun is shining. When you think of it, really,
today is all and everything we will ever have. What will you do with the gift today is?                   ~Mark
                                                  Spotlight on…STEVE MASTERS

                We caught up with Steve Masters, who has been our organist since last July. We’re all quite
                pleased with his talents, and look forward to hearing his music for years to come! Here’s what he has
                to say about himself…
I was born in Cambridge, Mass., and spent my first six years in West Newton. My mother’s family lived in Reading;
my father’s family was centered in Watertown. I have a younger sister, Pam, who also lives in Maine. My father was
born in Portland and graduated from Deering High School. On my mother’s side, my grandmother was born in
Lisbon Falls. When I was six, my father was transferred to Washington, D. C., and we moved to Falls Church,
Virginia, where my parents joined Rock Spring Congregational Church. I began piano lessons at age seven, studying
the piano for nine years.
After high school, I went to college at Princeton University, where I majored in French Literature and minored in
Economics. When I graduated in 1964, I spent six months on active duty with the U. S. Army and, and then moved to
Philadelphia to begin a career at First Pennsylvania Bank. While I was at the bank, I earned an MBA in Finance from
Temple University. In 1995, I started my own business as a writer and, in 2000, went to work for The Vanguard
Group, writing for their website.
I have three sons: Doug, who is a professional percussionist; Rob, who is an architect; and Greg, born in 1975, who is
a certified truck mechanic. Doug and Greg live in suburban Philadelphia, and Rob lives in northern New Jersey. We
have four wonderful grandchildren, ages five and seven.
In 1981, Sherry and I were married. During the 1990s, we both sang in the Senior Choir at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian
Church and enjoyed choir tours to England, Russia, eastern Europe, Brazil, and Cuba. In addition, I accompanied (on
the piano) their Youth Chorale and sang with Bryn Mawr’s Chamber Singers and Chant Society. At the same time, I
began a self-study of the pipe organ.
I retired on June 30, 2002, and we arrived in Maine on July 4. I began organ lessons with Ray Cornils in early 2003.
During this time, I was also one of the accompanists at Mid-Coast Presbyterian Church in Topsham and was
“principal organist” there in 2005 and 2006. I am a member of the Portland (ME) Chapter of the American Guild of
Organists (AGO).
In 2007 and 2008, Sherry and I sang with the choir at First Parish Church in Brunswick, and we went on their singing
tour to Ecuador in June, 2009. In 2003 to 2006, I also sang with Oratorio Chorale, and I am currently a member of
Vox Nova, a 24-voice Chamber Choir that performs at Bowdoin College Chapel.
In addition to music and “all things financial”, I have an abiding interest in everything that runs on rails, including
trains, subways and (my favorite) streetcars. One of my current projects is to build a layout in our cellar for the
Lionel trains that I played with as a boy.

                                        Annual Meeting Summary
The 245th Annual Meeting of the Phippsburg Congregational Church was held on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010 with 44
members and friends in attendance. All reports were accepted with corrections. It was noted that we met and
exceeded pledge amounts for 2009, as well as 2010! Discussions included the new worship time and the effect it had
on attendance and creation of an ad hoc committee for the community concerts. We thanked all those who have given
and will give their volunteer time to the church. John Morse read a brief note of thanks to Mark for all he does as our
Pastor. Copies of the 2009 annual report are available for members by contacting the church office.

                                             Junior Youth Group
The junior youth group for our middle school-age young people started in October and has gotten off to a good start.
The group went apple-picking (and baked pies with the apples they picked), went hiking, have raised money for
Pastor Mair Honan's Grace Street Ministry for the homeless, made hygiene kits for Haiti, went ice skating, and
much more. The group is led by by J. Cavanagh, Brigit Cavanagh, Tara Cavanagh and Tyler Russell. We would
love to get the word out to other middle school-age young people that the group exists and meets every Sunday
during our worship service time. Even if you do not currently attend our church, you are welcome to join us for fun,
adventure and hanging out.
                                                 Good news!!!
Congratulations to Junior Youth Group leader J Cavanagh, who has an appointment to the US Naval Academy!!!

From the Stewardship Committee…
Many years ago, while participating in a stewardship appeal, a member of the committee who was very
knowledgeable in fund raising encouraged us to avoid the usual reluctance we all have to “ask” people, often friends,
”to give”. His guidance was that most everyone wants to help; some by actively participating and working (time),
others, maybe unable to work but genuinely wanting to help, often can offer financial support (talent). With this in
my mind I believe there is always a way to ask our friends and members to provide support, particularly for an
important and necessary annual appeal.
Fortunately we have an abundance of friends and members who share and give very generously of both their time and
talents. When your Stewardship Committee first met we agonized over the difficult economic climate, the carefully
crafted budget that included a modest 2.1% increase over 2009, and the conflict between having our usual low-key
appeal versus waging a more aggressive appeal. Nothing suggested this would be an easy year, especially because the
Red Sox had a poor showing in the Division Series!
The concept of asking members and friends to participate in the appeal by adding either written or spoken comments
seemed very worth repeating because we all believed it was both helpful and fun last year. And herein lies the rock-
solid foundation of our church community – six members rose to the challenge, and either wrote a short paragraph or
spoke briefly at the start of worship services during November and early December. Each offered a unique and very
personal perspective on their rationale for “giving” – each very heartfelt, poignant, compelling, emotional, and matter-
of-fact. These six said it all – completed the appeal in 3 paragraphs, and 15 minutes of spoken words!
In the end as the campaign neared its close in early December, we were just a few dollars short of our budgeted goal
of $58,750. By the end of December we were slightly over the goal, and as of the Annual Meeting, and this message,
we are significantly above our goal, with both increases in dollars and participants. Fifty four people, 10 more than
last year, pledged $62,114.50!!! We are blessed to be part of the Phippsburg Congregational Church Community
where both friends and members, young and old, all give generously, far more generously than your Stewardship
Committee would have dared to hope! We believe in each other, we believe in our Pastor, Mark Wilson, and we
believe God works in wondrous ways. What other possible explanation could there be for such generous outpouring
in this otherwise undernourished economy.
Thanks to everyone,
Dill Paiste for the Stewardship Committee

From Patty Percy…

I think there should have been a PARTY going on and we should have been invited. Branches celebrated its 1st
birthday and no mention of a cake and candle after church during the refreshment hour – nothing mentioned until the
annual report. (Maybe I missed it!) I usually can sniff out cake most any time.
When I hear another issue of Branches is coming out soon I look forward to that special e-mail from the little "Twigs"
that put it all together. They are the main support and carry the sap to the big "Branches". Branches is another
positive thing that our church family strives to make available and interesting to all of us. I love it.
I look out the window and see the trees barren, cold and waiting. The Linden tree this morning was just waiting for
another spring to warm its old soul. I think winter is like that for all of us. Cold and waiting. Spring is nearly three
months down the road during some of the coldest and bleakest days ahead. We are lucky that this little part of God's
creation only has to put up with snow, cold weather, freezing rain and wind during the winter. Bad, right? It isn't if
you look around the world and see some of the disasters that have been ruining people’s lives. Alright I know it has
been COLD - I agree, but pull a chair in front of the window with the sun shining in on you, soak up that Vitamin D,
put your feet up, sit back and be thankful that those branches are bare this time of year. "The Branches" that arrived
today will be full of warmth, cheer and hope and I am sure is full of interesting articles too. Be thankful for the
smallest of sunbeams. I am. Thanks Joannie, Jean and Bev.             ~Patty

In memory…
Some folks who are no longer with us include Rev. Stanley Welch, Emily McMann, Dot Pye Sandelin, Alice Pye
and Barbara Carlisle.
                                                Church Calendar

Wednesday, February 17 – 7:00 p.m. - Ash Wednesday service, including the voluntary imposition of ashes
Sunday, March 28 – 10:00 a.m. - Palm Sunday service
Thursday, April 1 – 7:00 p.m. – Maundy Thursday service
Friday, April 2 - Noon to 3:00 p.m. - Good Friday - Church open for prayer
Sunday, April 4 - 6:00 a.m. - Community Easter Sunrise service
       Breakfast to follow in Linden Tree Meeting House
Sunday, April 4 – 10:00 a.m. - Easter Sunday service

                                             Community Concerts

Friday, February 19 - 7:30 p.m. - LATE BLOOMERS
Friday, March 19 - 7:30 p.m. - BOB WEBB & DAVE PELOQUIN
Friday, April 16 - 7:30 p.m. - LISSA SCHNECKENBURGER

Friday, May 14 - 7:30 p.m. - ED TRICKETT
                $10 adults/$6 students & children        Children under the age of 8 are admitted free
                                      For more information, please call 389-1770

  Phippsburg Congregational Church
  PO Box 301
  Phippsburg ME 04562


     Jean Flink
   Joannie Krohn
     Bev Tuttle

Phone: (207) 389-1767

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