Throughout the year, there are many events that take place within our community. Some are traditions while others are fairly new. Here are descriptions of some of the regular highlights of our church year.
Water Communion Service
The first Sunday after Labor Day is a kind of “homecoming” for our congregation. To celebrate this coming back together, we invite people to bring a small amount of water from a place they find special or sacred. Often this is water collected on a summer trip or from a beloved place. During the service, each person is invited to pour their water into a common container and share a few words about the significance or symbolism of their contribution. This is a wonderful way for our community to reconnect at the beginning of the new church year.
Each October, on a Sunday just before Halloween, the congregation gathers for a potluck lunch and some creative pumpkin carving. The children enjoy this event and so do the adults.
Santa Parade and Betsy Conte Food Drive Off-Load. Youth run a concession stand during the parade to raise funds for their programs, and then assist with off-loading the food from the food drive, sort it, and prepare it for distribution to area food pantries.
This children’s pageant is an event we look forward to each year and is presented by the children, the RE committee and other enthusiastic helpers. On the Sunday before Christmas, our sanctuary becomes the little town of Bethlehem as we sing carols and hear the story of Jesus’ birth, acted out by Mary and Joseph, the three wise folk, the animals, the stars, the shepherds, King Herod and the heavenly host. This service is a lovely way to begin our celebration of Christmas.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
On Christmas Eve we come to church to be together on this holy night, to hear the nativity story from the gospels of Luke and Matthew and to sing beloved Christmas carols. Our service of lessons and carols includes a sermon by our minister and near the end, the lights dim and candlelight spreads slowly throughout the sanctuary. After the service, we gather in the Murray Room for a festive time of refreshments and to exchange holiday wishes with friends new and old.
Martin Luther King Breakfast
Each January, we gather on Sunday morning with our friends and neighbors from Calvary Baptist Church to remember and celebrate the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther KIng, Jr. Using our large downstairs kitchen, The Calvary members cook and serve a fine breakfast to both congregations. Both choirs sing, both ministers share some remarks, and area politicians often join us. Afterwards, we go to church!
The auction is a fun evening and our largest fundraiser. We enjoy a festive meal and bid on goods and services, in both a silent and a live auction, that have been donated by members of the church.
Annual Stewardship Canvass
Each spring, we conduct a pledge drive to ask our members and friends to make a commitment of financial support for the coming year. By this time, we have drafted a budget for the next fiscal year (which begins July 1) and presented it to the congregation. It is only through our pledges that the church can pay our staff, maintain our building and fund our programs. A final budget built upon these pledges is presented to the congregation for its approval at our annual meeting in June.
The Rose Tea is a relatively new event that has become a real favorite. Members of the Ladies Circle create a High Tea served in true English fashion. This afternoon event includes some entertainment and men of the church wait on the tables. A good time is had by all at the Rose Tea!
Earth Day Fair
The Green Sanctuary Committee holds an Earth Day Fair after church on the Sunday closest to Earth Day. The goal is to raise awareness of and share information about environmental issues. These issues have included alternative transportation, geo-thermal heating, micro wind power, solar heat and community supported agriculture. A recent addition has been the Vegetarian Cafe, put on by the Religious Education committee.
In the spring, members and friends dig in their gardens, divide plants and donate their plants to sell. The Murray Room is transformed into a green oasis of hundreds of perennial plants for sun and shade, and serious gardeners come early to get the best selection! Unsold plants are donated to varopis charities.
On the first Sunday in June, the church holds its annual meeting in the sanctuary following the Sunday service. The congregation hears reports from the minister and officers of the church, and votes on the budget and officers for the upcoming year. The congregation may also consider and vote on other issues which may come before the meeting. The annual meeting is an example of congregational polity in action--it reminds us that in our tradition most of the power is vested in the members of the congregation.
July & August
During the summer months, our worship adopts a more relaxed style. These services are often led by members of the congregation. We do not offer church school at this time, but children are always welcome. Like the rest of the year, these services are followed by a time for coffee and conversation.
Other Ongoing Events
These intimate potluck meals are held in church members’ homes at intervals throughout the year. They offer an evening of fun, food and conversation, and are a great way to meet new people and make new friends.
Our church is part of a network of community churches and organizations which commit to providing a hot meal for between 30 and 50 needy persons and families in the Greater Haverhill area. Our volunteers cook on the first and third Saturdays of the month, serving between 4 and 5 p.m. Volunteers are needed to be head cook(s), and to help with set-up, serving and clean-up.
This group has been in existence for 163 years as an important and contributing part of our church. The Ladies meet on the second Saturday of each month from September to May at 1:00 PM for tea and desserts. They plan and attend meetings, discuss affairs of the church, and contribute in as many ways as they can. New people are always welcome.
Open Hand Pantry
The Open Hand Food Pantry is open on Tuesdays from 2:00 pm to 7 pm and provides food to needy citizens of Haverhill. The pantry is run by our friends at St. James and St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic parishes. On the first Sunday of each month we ask congregants to bring in donations of food to share with the pantry.
Community Action Drop-in-Center
Community Action runs its Drop-in-Center Monday through Friday in the basement dining area of our church. The Drop-in-Center helps to serve the needs of the homeless and needy people in the the City of Haverhill by providing a safe, warm and communal environment.
New Moon Coffeehouse
Most months through the fall, winter and spring, the church hosts a coffeehouse on the third Saturday of the month. The New Moon Coffeehouse is a great tradition here, and offers a wonderful variety of great folk music.