First Baptist Church Staff

  • Rev. Karen Mendes - Pastor
  • Marie Morton - Administrative Assistant
  • Steve Perkins - Director of Music
  • Adam Schneider - Organist
  • Anna Roy - Chancel Choir Director
  • Rachael Haar - Children's Choir Director
  • Steve Perkins - Instrumental Group Director
  • Chris Brault - Sexton

Officers of First Baptist

  • Sarah Dopp - Moderator
  • Mark Paulsen - Assistant Moderator
  • Mary Swasey - Clerk
  • Beth Gamache - Assistant Clerk
  • Frank Swasey - Treasurer
  • Erin Allard - Assistant Treasurer
  • Ginger Calder - Financial Secretary
  • Barbara Farrington - Asst. Financial Secretary
  • Sarah Dopp - Historian
  • Andy Farrington - Parliamentarian

Green Steeple, Great People, Growing In Faith, Proclaiming God's Love

  • Green Steeple Messenger – March 2018



    “Hope of the World, O Christ of great compassion:

    speak to our fearful hearts by conflict rent;

    save us, your people, from consuming passion,

    who by our own false hopes and aims are spent.

    • Georgia Harkness
      Last Sunday we began the Season of Lent with heavy hearts as we mourn yet another school shooting.  Our nation is in the midst of much soul searching as we attempt to find some way to stem the tide of so much evil and sorrow.  Solutions will require us to listen to each other and to recognize that anger, despair, and the normalization of violence lie at the root of the problem.   As people of faith, we believe that God’s love is stronger by far than any evil that the world can produce.  We know that Christ defeated evil and death on Easter morning.  Because of this assurance we are empowered to reject fear and violence and to embrace love and compassion.  Love; powerful, fearless, open love will lead us out of this horrific wilderness in which we find ourselves.   As we journey together toward Easter, let us hold tight to the assurance of God’s love and let us boldly participate in the national conversation about how best to keep our children and our neighbors safe from violence.  As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution. Yours, in Christ, Rev. Karen A. Mendes



    The Congregational Care Committee of the First Baptist Church Diaconate reports that there are currently 5 on the Homebound Members & Friends list. In January, 5 “known visits” were made to 2 homebound members and 8 “known calls” were made to 4 homebound members by FBC members and friends. In addition, Other Members & Friends received 12 visits to (3) and (2) calls made to (1). Also, cards were sent to homebound members and friends. The committee invites you to help with this ministry.

    Please contact Ray when you visit or call a homebound member and friend at:




    Sermon Texts and Titles

    Mar. 04 –  Jesus the Troublemaker – Rev. Karen Mendes

    Scriptures: Ex. 20:1-17

    Psalm 19

    John 2:13-22

    Mar. 11 –Jesus Saves the World –  Rev. Karen Mendes

    Scriptures: Num. 21:4-9

    Ps. 107:1-3, 17-22

    John 3:14-21

    Mar. 18 – A Voice from Heaven – Rev. Karen Mendes

    Scriptures: Jer. 31:31-34

    Psalm 51:1-12

    John 12:20-33

    Mar. 25 –  Hosanna in the Highest Heaven – Rev. Karen Mendes

    Scripture: Mark 11:1-11


    Our Monday Bible Study is held on Mondays at 11:30am. Please plan to join us and bring your lunch. We are studying the Gospel of Thomas.  This ancient collection of sayings by Jesus has many parallels with the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. For more information, please email Rev. Mendes at or call the church office at 864-6515.


    Diaconate Member Marie Morton

    “Lenten Prayers for Spiritual Growth”

    In Lent, we experience many gifts from God.  Know that what we do in Lent is only a more intense experience of what we are called to do each and every day. Let this Lent be your opportunity to take advantage of God’s promise, “I will be with you always.” Pray that you might be able to follow his example and be truly present with love to those around you.



    During the Lenten Season , we will be following 40 Days with Grounded: A Devotional by Diana Butler Bass.  Those who purchased her book Grounded: Finding God in the World will find the readings at the back of the book.  Rev. Mendes will be posting Scriptures and reflections from the book in our Facebook group, First Baptist BurlingtonVT.  Please join the group and join the conversation.



    Special music is welcomed at every service at FBC.  All members of the congregation are encouraged to share their talents throughout the church year to enhance our service and add special moments of diversity in worship.

    If you would like to add your voice or instrument to any of the groups, we are open to folks who cannot commit to every rehearsal or service as well.  With advanced planning, it is possible to add flexibility to our music selections allowing a broader participation from all members of our congregation. Please contact Steve Perkins for more information or to sign up for a time to share.



    Life at First Baptist is much more than just Sunday mornings and we have the opportunity to be connected on Facebook at a Facebook group called First Baptist Burlington VT.  In this group each member can share announcements, make public prayer requests, and ask questions.  We can have online discussions about sermons, current events, Bible studies, etc.  Rev. Mendes will share devotional readings during the season of Lent.  Please join the group and invite others to join as well.


    Greeting and Refreshments –

    We are offering two opportunities to serve on Sunday mornings by asking for both greeters and providers of snacks.  Feel free to sign up for both or only one.


    We invite you to donate flowers for Sunday worship.  Please sign up on the flower chart in back of the narthex for any Sunday of your choice or call the church office



    In July 2020 the State of Vermont will be requiring all institutions and individuals to compost food scraps.  We have an opportunity to get some experience with this in the meantime.  Marjorie Adams regularly takes her own composting and trash to drop off at CSWD and will take along ours as well.  This will cost us nothing.  Commercial carriers charge a substantial fee.  She has obtained official containers, large square green ones (such as we filled on First Night) and smaller round black ones (which we’ve been using to collect coffee grounds on Sunday mornings).  Many more items are commercially compostable than we usually think of (fat, meat, greasy paper etc.) The Y Daycare  has already enthusiastically joined in on this effort! A collection of CSWD brochures has been placed on the Fellowship Hall bulletin board for reference.


    “Relationships Across Differences”

    March 7 & March 14 at 6:30pm – All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne

    March 21, 6:30pm at Shelburne Museum

    Free, but donations accepted and pre-registration suggested (


    Fran Stoddard (VT PBS host) will moderate discussion with distinguished guests from diverse perspectives on how engagement with the natural world, each other and diverse spiritual traditions, may bridge the divide between people.  The first session focusses on faith traditions; the second on human conflict and justice; the last on nature, trees and artistic expression.  There is more information    on the bulletin board near the office.


    America For Christ Offering March 2018

    American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) is promoting the America for Christ (AFC) Offering 2018, which seeks to raise $1,250,000 to support American Baptist mission and ministry across the United States and Puerto Rico.

    The theme for the AFC Offering 2018 is “Equipping Disciples” based on this Scripture: “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13, NRSV).


    ANEW Place

    March 11 – 17 is the First Baptist Church week for feeding the residents of ANEW Place! A sign up is in the narthex along with instructions!

    ANEW Place is a residential group home where homeless individuals participate in a four step program.  They are provided with a safe place to live, given tools and resources with which to learn financial and emotional independence.  Their program is exceptional and we strongly encourage you to go to their website and look at what they do in your community!  First Baptist is one of hundreds of entities and individuals who provide a meal one week out of the year (we do two weeks!).  Their meals are completely funded by the community. You can also sign up on your own for a night, right on their website.

    There is a Christmas greeting from Bill and Ann Clemmer.  They were in the States over the holidays, returning to South Sudan the weekend of January 6.



    This famous recipe was well-loved by Elsie Follett’s family and is known to have come from her grandmother (Lena Higby Baldwin) who passed it to her daughter Laura Baldwin Simonds (who was the church treasurer for 43 years) and now to Jane Follett (Lena Baldwin’s great-great grand-daughter), who baked a batch in her grandmother’s honor and inspired the memory shared on Saturday.  By my count, that’s about 150 years of yummy cookies!!

    Sour Cream Cookies

    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup Crisco Shortening
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2.5 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1 tsp baking soda

    Cream together sugar & Crisco, then stir in egg & add vanilla.  Separate bowl, add soda to sour cream & mix well, then sift salt with flour.

    Now add to the combined first four ingredients.  Use a teaspoon to drop mix onto greased pan.  Bake 10 mins at 350 F. F.  Cookies should be removed when very slight browning on top occurs (keeps them moist).


    ~Bill Follett

    On Sunday, March 4, we will gather at the church at 3:30pm to go to Leddy Ice Arena, where we have ice reserved from 4:30-5:30pm.  To participate, please sign up in the narthex or email Rev. Mendes at



    Demolition of the old kitchen area will begin on April 2.  There will be lots of activity over the following 6-8 weeks as new construction takes place.



    This year, as we meet and work and worship together, let us take photos so that at our next Annual Meeting we can put together a slide show of our life together.  Photos can be emailed to the church office  Please get parental permission before photographing children.  Thanks!


    American Baptist Missionaries in Haiti

    American Baptist missionaries live with and continue to serve Haitians, in spite of the political attacks out of our national White House. Executive Director for International Ministries, Sharon Koh, recently wrote to us after the ugly, racist comments were spoken by the president which were directed at Africans, Haitians and Salvadorans. In support of our partners in these countries, Rev. Koh reminded us to reaffirm the worth of all persons and to stand against ethnic prejudice. She wrote that we must reject partiality and respect all people. She encouraged us, as followers of Jesus and people of good will, to work together to bring blessings to all the people.

    Sharon added, “Our ministries and our mission throughout the world are founded and enabled by relationships of mutual trust and respect. We renounce words and ways that demean any nation or people group.”

    American Baptist missionaries Kihomi Ngwemi and Mabudiga Nzunga are Africans (D.R. Congo) serving in Haiti and I felt the doubly hateful, verbally abusive attack against my friends. When I was an AB Volunteer in Mission at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, KS, they (and two of their four children) were on sabbatical leave and were my neighbors. I felt the insult directed at them and the Haitians. Nzunga told me that they do not have time to waste on such nonsense. He also told me that the majority of Haitians do not know what is going on around the world. Nzunga teaches theology at the Christian University of Northern Haiti, trains assistant professors, administers the Haitian Eye Clinic and manages the goat and pig project for children and the clean water project for communities. Kihomi works with families in the areas of counseling and women’s health. She also coordinates the women’s association of the Haitian Baptist Convention and speaks at international conferences. They both are training the next generation at all levels.

    Brian and Lynette Smith with their two young sons also serve as our missionaries in Haiti. Brian leads visiting mission teams in construction projects and Lynette works with Haitian women empowering them while sharing God’s love. Dr. Steve James and his wife Nancy, a nurse, are missionaries in Haiti, too.



    After Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804, we have been sending American Baptist missionaries there. The first, Thomas Paul, son of freed slaves from Exeter, NH, arrived in 1824 with bibles and tracts. He preached and baptized among the Haitians. He laid the groundwork for the establishment of

    (Cont. Haiti History)

    the First Baptist Church in Haiti. I have counted names of more than 60 AB missionaries who followed Thomas plus thousands of short-term and volunteer missionaries. Today the Haitian Baptist Convention has 110 churches, hundreds of preaching stations and nearly 100,000 baptized.*

    American Baptists give emergency funds and volunteers who work alongside our missionaries with the Haitians who suffer the effects of civil unrest and natural disasters. (1 Peter 4:10)

    Since U.S. policy toward Haiti is officially intended to strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition and promote respect for human rights, Donald Trump’s unacceptable racist comments have caused riots in Port-au-Prince and the American embassy was closed January 23, 2018. There are daily concerns about how the Haitians among others have been denigrated by our current president and his administration. Historically, both Republican and Democratic presidents have worked carefully to protect the American dream for immigrants.


    DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) expires in March 2018. Members of Congress could end the threat of deportation and agree with 70% of US citizens who want Haitians and other immigrants to stay in our country without using the Dreamers as bargaining tools for a wall!


    ~Nancy Tracy

    *For more Haitian History, read Ivah Heneisse’s “Pioneers of Light.”


    There remain 7 openings on boards and committees (Trustees -2, Christian Ed – 2, 139 Bank Street -1, Music – 1, Public Relations – 1 and Church Clerk).   If you have an interest in serving, please speak to a member of the Nominating Committee (Stu Burroughs, Barb Farrington, Sarah Dopp).  A full contingent of members is needed for the effectiveness of these groups.


    A big thank you to Nancy Danforth and Beth Vuley, Fern Sparks, and Carol Gaylord for making a total of 18 quarts of soup for the homeless to eat at the First United Methodist Church on Sunday evening of January 21.  Also, thanks to Stu & Jeneva Burroughs for providing three gallons of milk.

    Joint Urban Ministry Project    February Food Bag Count

    Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution of either money or a food bag for the month of February!  As of this article, 44 bags have been collected.

    Your donations go a long way in helping folks make ends meet.  And please remember, we are also one of the toothpaste churches for JUMP.  There are baskets for your toothpaste donations in various spots around the church.

    Dear FBC Family,

    As most of you know, I was permitted to return home Monday, February 5th just two days short of spending two months in re-hab for the fracture of both hips from a middle of the night fall last August!

    The days whizzed by spent with three types of therapy: Physical, Occupational, Memory, and Speech.  I missed most of the holidays at year’s end… Christmas, New Year’s, even Super Bowl the last night before returning home.

    I want to thank each of you for being my support system through this time I will always remember the personal one -on-one visits, cards, gifts,    Rev. Karen coming with the Christmas Carolers brought the true meaning of Christmas with their songs of Christmas we’ve all grown up to love…..I’m forever grateful!!!

    Until I can physically return to visit with each of you, please feel free to call our home at 878-3368.  If I’m working with any of the therapists I will most definitely return your call.

    Love & Hugs & Deep Appreciation!!!! Fred Danforth


    The Christian Education Board is offering an ongoing Second Hour series called “Baptist Principles: Freedoms and Responsibilities.” It features principles which are the foundation of most Baptist denominations including American Baptists.  There are five sessions with five different leaders for each session which, as the series illustrates, is a very Baptist way of doing things.  Baptist Principles uses a curriculum by Jeffery Jones published by the Judson Press.  If you are new to worshiping as a Baptist, this will be very interesting and informative.  If you are an old hand , it will be a great refresher.

    Feb. 25 – “The Bible” – Rev. Mendes Mar. 4 – “Believers’ Baptism” – Jeneva Burroughs Mar. 18 – “Religious Liberty” – Sarah Dopp Mar. 25 – “The Priesthood of All Believers” – Bev Nichols Thank you to Stu and Jeneva Burroughs who last week provided an interesting second hour presentation about the Tree Art Project initiated by Ohavi Zedek Synagogue.  The tree will be “planted” outside when it is warmer!


    Palm Sunday – 9:45am                      Join us as we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

    Maundy Thursday – 6:00pm   Gather at the table with those who choose to be with Christ and his disciples.

    Good Friday – 12:00pm                         A quiet service of prayer and reflection as we honor Jesus’ final hours on the cross.

    Easter Sunrise Service – 6:20am                                          Easter Sunday Worship – 9:45am              A Glorious celebration of Jesus’ resurrection!  Our service will conclude with the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus from the Handel’s Messiah. After worship we will continue our celebration with an Easter Egg Hunt!



    Please notify the office of any flower donations for Easter Sunday by Wed., March 28th.  Please deliver flowers to the church on Friday or Saturday by 1pm.  If this is not convenient, please bring them on Sunday morning before the service. There will be a list included in the bulletin.


    After worship on March 11, we will have a congregational meeting to discuss and vote upon the creation and funding of a part-time Director of Christian Education staff position.  This motion comes from the Board of Christian Education and has been recommended by the Advisory Council.  Please plan to join us for this important discussion and decision. Copies of the job description are available upon request.




    On February 11, our congregation voted to purchase a Trombone rank of pipes for our historic Hook organ.  Our organ was designed to have these pipes but  for some reason they had never been purchased or installed.  The new pipes will be played with the foot pedal and add a richness to the music played on our wonderful instrument.  The new pipes will be installed this Spring.


    This year we are undertaking big projects to update and improve our building and music ministry.  We are fortunate that over the years many have given of their resources to our Permanent Fund so that we have the ability to pay for these improvements. As individuals, some may wish to contribute to one or both projects in order to reduce the amount that will be taken from the Permanent Funds at this time. These contributions will allow future special initiatives to take place.  If you are interested in contributing funds to either the kitchen project or the organ project, please speak to one of our Trustees of the Permanent Fund, Sarah Dopp, Stu Burroughs, and Bill McCormick.