Apps for Spiritual Growth

Published on December 29, 2016, by in News & Events.

Looking for an easy way to connect with God on the go? Here are some FREE app suggestions to help you fit God time into your day:

Pray as You Go – IOS and Android

Available as an app or a podcast, Pray as You Go provides an audio recording with sacred music, a scripture reading and questions for reflection every day. This resource is produced by Jesuit Media Initiatives, with material written by a number of Jesuits, both in Britain and further afield, and other experts in the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola. Although the content is different every day, it keeps to the same basic format, and provides a framework for prayer 6 days a week. Visit their website at where you can listen to the podcast, or download the app for ios or android (links are in the bottom right corner of the home page). The podcast is also available by searching in the iTunes store.

The Bible (by YouVersion) – IOS, Android, Kindle Fire

This portable Bible contains over 1000 different versions of the text, including audio versions so you can listen on the go. Another valuable resource is a variety of reading plans that help you read passages relating to a certain topic, read the Bible in a year, or read devotionals written by pastors and theologians from all over the world. Just a note of caution – the devotionals contain individual’s perspectives and interpretations. Find it at

Common Prayer – IOS

If you followed Pastor Jamie’s Facebook Live Advent devotions, you will already be familiar with this resource. It’s a prayer book written by Shane Claiborne for communities who pray together daily, and even multiple times a day. The App version of the book allows you to set alarms reminding you it’s time to pray, and also to hear recorded versions of the songs used in prayer. Otherwise, it works just like the book version. You can find the entire contents of the book for free online at, or find the iPhone app HERE. Of course, you can also find real book version on Amazon.

The Examen – IOS and Android

The Examen Prayer is a spiritual exercise developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola that provides a structure for reflecting on one’s day in light of God’s presence. There are several good apps out there to help you pray the Awareness Examen. A good one to start out with is called Examen Prayer by Father Michael Denk. This app gives you a detailed explanation for each step, and can gently remind you when it’s time to “Come away and rest a while.” To take the prayer to the next level, I recommend “Reimagining the Examen” by Loyola Press. This provides many different guided Examen prayers depending on your needs or mood. Download on Google Play or iTunes.

Have you discovered other apps that help you in your spiritual life? Email Pastor Carol with a link and we’ll add it to this post.

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Living Nativity

Published on November 22, 2016, by in News & Events.

Living Nativity – November 27, 2:15-4:15 pm


Living Nativity 2015

Come get a glimpse of what the first Christmas might have looked like at our Living Nativity. We’ll have real sheep, goats, donkey, and camelid, as well as real people dressed to fit the part. The scene will take place on the Old South front lawn, with a Christmas Carol background provided by the Reading Community Singers. Come inside for Hot Cocoa and a craft for the children. We still have room for nativity characters (in 20 minute shifts) and hospitality inside. Please sign up here if you’re interested in volunteering.

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MLK Day of Service

Published on January 7, 2016, by in News & Events.

Day of Service for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Join in this annual opportunity to improve the lives of others, and to prove that each of us has the ability to make a difference. Please review and register at Many tasks are flexible in the time and number of participants required. Feel free to move from one project to another if your schedule allows.  Children are encouraged to participate, but keep in mind younger skill sets and attention spans. Also, children under 14 years of age should sign up with an adult or with the permission of the project leader. We have attempted to provide opportunities for a wide variety of ages and abilities. Everyone is invited to start the day at First Congregational Church at 9:00am for a brief meeting.

Food Pantry Reorganization @ Old South – Leader: Phyllis Maxwell

  • 9:15-1:30   Sort and organize items at the Pantry.

Create Non-Slip Footwear @ FCCR – Leader: Diane Wilson

  • 9:15-12:30 or when done. Good for kids & families.
  • Use puffy paint on socks for hospital and nursing home residents

Mission of Deeds Furniture delivery to client family @ MOD Leader: Bruce Murison

  • 9:15am-12noon Need 3-4 strong lifters 

Fleece Scarves and Hats @ FCCR – Leader: Lin Chabra

  • 9:15-12:30 or when done.  Good for kids & families.
  • Create cuddly clothing; no sewing required, but bring good scissors.

Preparing Bagged Meals for Lazarus House @ FCCR – Leader: Hilary Kopp-Trismen

  • 9:15-12:30 or when done.     Good for families

Interior Painting @ EMARC Reading     Leader: Len Corey

  • 9:15-1:30 or when done. Youth with adults accepted, painting experience preferred. 

Knit & Crochet-A-Thon @ FCCR – Leader: Carol Patterson

  • 9:15-12:30 or when done
  • Create hats for newborns, and warm hats and scarves for the homeless.

Valentine’s Day Card Making @ FCCR Leader: Gay Williams

  • 9:15-12:30 or when done. Good for kids & families.
  • Make cards for elders and homebound neighbors. 

Food Pantry Donation Delivery @ Old South – Leader: Phyllis Maxwell

  • 1:00-2:30 or when done. Unload and sort donated items from Stop & Shop.

Food Collection @ Stop & Shop for Reading Food Pantry – The Young Women’s League.

  • 9:15-1:30 plus time at Food Pantry.

Cards for Patients @ FCCR   Leader : William Levwood

  • 9:15 – 12:30 or when done. Good for kids & families.
  • Create cards for mental health patients in local hospitals.


Donations are also needed in some areas: Washable yarns, baby/soft yarns, sandwich breads, apples, oranges, juice boxes, cookies (homemade or store bought), money for lunch meats, fleece for hats and scarves.  Register at or contact Betsy Schneider at All projects are subject to change.


MLK Day of Service is co-sponsored by ReadingCares and the Reading Clergy Association. It is hosted by the First Congregational Church of Reading, United Church of Christ, at 25 Woburn St. (parking and entrances on Sanborn St. and the Town Hall Parking Lot.) Many thanks to additional participant organizations and sites, as noted with each project. All interested volunteers are welcome to participate! Please register as noted above.

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Questions for Visioning

Published on August 14, 2015, by in News & Events.

Vision 2020 With Tagline

As our church leadership prepares to craft a new vision statement, you are invited into our process of prayer and discernment. Each week for four weeks we will supply a scripture passage and questions for contemplation. Please submit your answers by email to, or hand write them and place them in the box in front of the chapel.

A vision statement articulates God’s dream for our congregation. It considers who we have been and currently are, and the needs in our community, and names who God is calling us to be in the near future.The best vision statements are memorable, inspirational, clear, and concise.

We’re asking the question, “who is God calling Old South UMC to be in the year 2020?” Our vision statement will take into account the mission statement of all United Methodist Churches – “making disciples for the transformation of the world” – and put it into our particular context.


Week 1: Who Are We?

  • Read Psalm 139:

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.”

  • In prayer, ask God to guide you in an honest assessment of who we are currently (not who we used to be or who we might become). Consider who makes up our congregation, what our habits are, what our distinct characteristics are, our strengths, and our weaknesses.
  • In 1-5 sentences, conclude this statement: Old South United Methodist Church is…
  • Email your statement to or bring in your hand-written answer to worship on Sunday.

Week 2: Who Are They?

  • Read Matthew 25:34-40:

34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

  • In prayer, and in conversation with others around our community, identify needs or hurts beyond our church building that cry out for attention. Ask a neighbor, teacher, city official, hospital worker, or food pantry patron what their wish is for Reading. Pray about what is breaking God’s heart in Reading, New England, or the world. Consider the gifts, strengths, and experiences of our congregation. What needs would we already have some of the resources to respond to? What hurts could we get excited about healing?
  • Describe a need you have learned about that you could imagine Old South making a difference in:
  • Place your statement in the box outside the chapel or email it to
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Speak Up for Education Equity

Published on June 19, 2015, by in News & Events.

Following up on the recent mission moment about Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), the Outreach Committee is asking Old South members to consider signing a letter to support pending legislation.  Thousands of undocumented MA high school graduates are unable to get a college education because they have to pay out-of-state tuition rates at public colleges and cannot be considered for financial aid even though they have lived in MA for years. These young people and their families contribute to our state economy and pay taxes but their future is limited because they cannot afford college.  Legislation to allow these students to pay in-state tuition rates and be considered for financial aid is currently before the Education committees in the MA Legislature. Please consider signing the attached letter (click here) to ask your legislator to support this bill moving forward to a vote in the Legislature. This legislation is similar to legislation passed in several states (including Texas and Florida which have much larger immigrant populations than MA) and would apply only to students who attended MA high schools for at least three years and who have applied to become a legal resident. 

Please consider signing this letter and mailing it to your legislator to ask him/her to support this bill moving forward to a vote in the Legislature.  Copies of the letter are also available in the Vestry (by the Outreach bulletin board) so you can sign a letter at church and the Outreach Committee will mail it.  Thank you!

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Maine Mission Trip 2015

Published on May 20, 2015, by in News & Events.

Let’s get a team together for


July 12-18, 2015

Washington Co., Maine (in Down East -or far northeastern- Maine) is the most economically oppressed region in New England, with up to 68% of families living beneath the poverty line. The United Methodist missions are centered in East Machias. Groups who come to work stay at the Jacksonville United Methodist Campground, which has quaint summer cabins with running water and kitchenettes, a lake for swimming, and marked nature trails. There is a variety of work that can be done depending on participants’ skills and interest:

  • Neighbors Helping Neighbors is community housing rehab program assisting elderly, disabled, and low-income residents of the region. Volunteers with this ministry may paint, do plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation, carpentry, or roofing.
  • There is a clothing ministry at a mission run by Carlos and Lydia, missionaries from El Salvador. This work is less strenuous than working on the homes and involves sorting and folding all the donated clothes, which are then sold for $1 a bag.
  • Migrant Ministry is done seasonally mid-July to mid-September to serve the 9,000 – 12,000 mainly Hispanic and Native American workers who come to rake blueberries. Ministry is done generally in the evenings, after the work day, and may include packing and delivering personal care items, blankets, and Bibles, and participating in worship services in the worker camps.
  • In addition, the Jacksonville UM Campground itself is in need of rehab and restoration. Groups may stay at the campground and help with various improvement projects.

The Old South mission team pairs with the Aldersgate teams for this trip. We plan to leave after being blessed in church on July 12, and return Saturday, July 18. Participants may come for any part of the trip, as long as they can arrange for transportation. Costs are $135 per person, which breaks down into $40/person for groceries and $95/person campground fee to be given to the campground manager up in Maine the week of the trip. Costs can be prorated for partial week or children.

We are planning an “Interested Parties Information time during coffee hour after church on May 31”. Please get in touch with Susan Holloway or Carol Van Buskirk if you are interested.

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Graduation Celebration Breakfast

Published on May 20, 2015, by in News & Events.

Join us in celebrating our high school and college graduates with a breakfast provided by Chris Krebs. The breakfast will take place at 8:30am on Sunday, June 7th, in the vestry, followed by a recognition of our graduates in the worship service. All are welcome but RSVP is required by June 1st. Click here to RSVP.

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Cook-off Recipes

Published on March 25, 2015, by in News & Events.

Golden ladle mar15The Chili/Soup cook-off was a huge success! We had 12 different soups and chilis for everyone to taste-test. Ralph and Lori Vinicguerra shared pictures from their trip to Haiti. After everyone had eaten their fill, the votes came in, and named Beth Fiore and Chris Boyd the winners of the “Golden Ladle” for best soup and best chili, respectively. Here are some of the recipes from the cook-off.

Vegetable Chili Con Carne:

from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book

Chili Base:

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

2 large cloves of garlic, mince (about 2 teaspoons)

2 t. vegetable oil

1 lb very lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)

1 28 oz. can tomato puree

1 can kidney beans

1 or more jalapeño pepper (I omitted this)

1 cup diced green peppers

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (optional)


5 t. brown sugar

5 t. mild chili powder

1 T. ground cumin

1 T. oregano leaves

1/2 t. salt, if desired, or to taste

1/2 t. coriander

1/4 t. ground cloves

1/8 t. ground allspice

1.  Saute onion and garlic in large deep heavy skillet, until softened

2. Add meat, browning it, stirring it to break up the pieces.  Drain off any fat that accumulates in the pan.

3. Add the tomatoes and all the seasonings.  Heat the mixture until it is bubbly, reduce the heat and cover the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Add the kidney beans, jalapeño peppers, green peppers, carrots, and celery.  Simmer the chili, covered about 20 minutes longer or until the carrots are softened.  If desired, add the corn kernels to the pot after 10 minutes.

Bean and Butternut Squash Vegetarian Chili (serves 12):

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cup chopped onion

4 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp salt

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

4 cups vegetable broth

3 cups cubed, peeled, cooked butternut squash (I sautéed in olive oil but you could boil)

2 (28 oz) cans no-salt added tomatoes

1/4 tsp Texas Pete or Tabasco (I added but this is optional)

1 (15 oz) can pinto beans

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans

2 (15 oz) cans red kidney beans

1 cup thinly sliced green onion

Sour cream

Shredded cheddar cheese

Heat Dutch oven or large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add oil to plan, swirl to coat.  Add onion, cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cumin, red pepper, paprika, salt, and garlic.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth, cooked squash, tomatoes and Texas Pete; bring to simmer. Cook 20 mins, stirring occasionally.  Add beans, simmer 25 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally.

Serve with green onion, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Craig Boyd’s Award Winning “Golden Ladle Hearty Chilli Mac”

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 1-1/4 hours

MAKES: 10-12 serving


2 pounds ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1 can (46 ounces) tomato juice

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

2 celery ribs, chopped

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni (though I used a whole cup)


1 ) In a 12” Dutch oven, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato juice, tomatoes, celery, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, mustard and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2) Add the beans and macaroni; simmer 15-20 minutes longer or until macaroni is tender. 

Easy Chili  (Submitted by John Barnes)

1 ) Sauté onions, red, green, and yellow bell peppers, and fresh garlic

2) Add your favorite canned chili (we suggest Hormel Vegetarian with Beans)


Beth’s Butternut Squash Soup

2 Butternut Squash

1 ½ Tablespoon Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

¼ teaspoon Cinnamon

¼ teaspoon Cardamom

¼ teaspoon Ginger

¼ teaspoon Cumin

Dash of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

5 cups of Chicken Stock 

1) Preheat oven to 425.

2) Peel, seed, & cube the Butternut Squash.  Mix with Olive Oil, Salt, & Pepper.  Roast for 30-45 minutes, until tender.

3) Transfer Squash to a dutch oven or stock pot.  Add remaining ingredients.  Puree with an immersion blender.  Simmer over medium low heat for 30 minutes or until ready to eat.

(Can garnish with sour cream, crème fraiche, crumbled bacon, or chives.)

(Can add more or less Chicken Stock to reach desired thickness.)

Serves 8.

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Chili/Soup Cook-off

Published on March 3, 2015, by in News & Events.

March 22 after worship

It is an Old South tradition to have a cook-off in advance of a mission trip so get your taste buds ready for March 22.  Please join us to taste multiple delicious soups and chilis and vote for your favorite.  We will also get to hear from Lori and Ralph Vinciguerra about their experiences at the orphanage.  Please bring an item to donate to the orphanage. We are collecting batteries (AA & AAA), new boys underwear (all sizes, boxers preferred), soccer balls (un-inflated if possible), and notebooks. If you haven’t had time to shop, feel free to make a donation and we can shop for you. 

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Hunger Banquet

Published on February 27, 2013, by in News & Events.

You are invited to a Hunger Banquet sponsored by the Outreach Committee on Sunday, March 10, right after the service. The Banquet is an opportunity to learn firsthand about the inequitable distribution of food in the world.

Participants will draw tickets at random to find out if they are in the high, middle, or low
income tier and receive a meal that corresponds to their income level. We will have an
opportunity to learn more about the causes of worldwide hunger and how the global economy
and climate change affect the one billion people who endure chronic hunger and are powerless
to do anything about it. A free will offering will be taken to support the work of Oxfam
America, an international relief and development organization that creates solutions to poverty and hunger.

In order to help us plan the food, the Outreach Committee would appreciate RSVP’s in advance if possible. Please contact Hilary Trismen ( or
978-475-9868) or sign up the vestry on 2/24 or 3/3. People are also welcome to decide to attend on the day of the event. During this Lenten season, the Hunger Banquet is a time for us to reflect on all we have. Please join us as we learn more about how we can follow Jesus’
teachings to serve the least among us.

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