Messages from the Pastor

September 25, 2016:

We are very pleased to announce at the Congregational Meeting held after the worship service,   the church affirmed the Search Committee’s selection of Jeremy Kirk to be our Settled Pastor.  We look forward to Jeremy starting on October 11th.  His first service with us will be October 16th.  Come to Welcome Jeremy and his family – Kayla, Vera and Ben.

The West Dover Congregational Church is an open and affirming congregation in the United Church of Christ that believes “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”


Spring 2016 We are currently being served by the Reverends  Ray Foster and Sandra Daly , each taking the pulpit for a month at a time.



9/27/15  Today was Rev Littrell’s last Sunday with us.  We thank him for his service, gifts, humor, appreciation for music and all the rest God sent us in him.  We wish him well as he moves back to Philadelphia in October.

6/24/15 Dear Friends and Colleagues at West Dover Congregational Church,

Just about eleven,Truly truly. OH MY GOD!!! Thank you! months ago, I heard from Andrea Seaton and then shortly thereafter met Lynn Bujnak for the first time and talked with her over another meeting’s lunch about the position of Interim Pastor at WDCC. A month later I came for a conversation with the interim pastor search committee, came back again for an interview, and month later began a new ministry with you.

Nine months have passed since then and much has been accomplished by all of us working together. I hope you had a chance to read the nine-months-in report and reflection I sent to the friends and congregation of the church last week. If not, it is posted on line and is in the last edition of The Steeple.

I’m writing now, though, to let you know that I will be leaving you at the end of this coming September. I have been challenged and thoroughly engaged by the opportunities for ministry that our time together has offered, but being away from my partner, Louis Skypala, and my home with him in Philadelphia for any longer is just not possible and certainly not desirable. Nor, I confess, is the prospect of another brutal winter in Vermont. So I must go.

I’ll leave with a measure of sadness. Many of you have been strong companions on the way we have trod, and every single one of you has great gifts to offer the church and the community. You’re doing so with great generosity.

I will also leave with a measure of satisfaction in a job well done by all of us. There is still a ways to go, but if you continue to understand that you really do have a choice as a community of God’s people–as God once said to the Hebrew tribe marching fitfully across the desert to the promised land–a choice between life and death, and if you work consciously to choose life and all the excitement and future that a life in God’s grace has to offer, you will go on to grow in the Light and to be a beacon of God’s covenantal possibilities in the Deerfield Valley! I pray that you will choose life, and live!

In the three months remaining in our ministry together there is much still to do. I will communicate soon with the Deacons and other leadership about several things I think we ought to aim to get done before September 30. Already in the works is a new and old member brunch on Lake Raponda on August 29, a Scout Sunday and Picnic on August 9, and another summer concert. And of course the Search Committee continues their work of discernment. It is important that each of you contribute to and offer feedback to the Committee when asked. Otherwise their task is a hollow one, not truly containing all the church has to offer a new minister and ministry.

I will be in the Valley for most off the next three months. I have plans to be away the week of July 19, leaving after service on Sunday and returning on July 27. My other work with Vermont congregations will take me hither and yon for a day or two here and there, but mostly I’ll be in the neighborhood and working with many of you to keep moving forward.

Please take some time this summer to enjoy the richness of this amazing place you live. As I drove back from Philadelphia last week after being away for three weeks into the full greenness of the Vermont summer, I realized it was this very thing that had brought me and Louis to West Dover one summer day seven years ago. It has always refreshed my soul. I hope it will do the same for you.

Finally, I am happy to report that Louis will be up here for the full length of the Marlboro Music Festival and on through Labor Day. It’s been our custom to end our summers with a short trip to the White Mountains and a climb up and down one of the Presidentials. Each year is a greater challenge, and I will be 72 and Louis 71 next month, but we are hopeful we can make an ascent/descent. It’s always been my hope to climb one of those peaks when I’m 90! I’ll let you know how it goes, or you will hear otherwise.

Walk always in God’s light and love. Strive to bring justice and peace to the whole human family. You are very good people. Be well.


Jim Littrell
The Rev. James H. Littrell
Consultant to Congregations and Communities in Partnership
Interim Minister
West Dover Congregational Church
West Dover, VT 05356

 The West Dover Congregational Church invites the Deerfield Valley community and beyond to meet new interim minister, the Rev. James H. Littrell and to celebrate the new shared ministry in the valley, on Sunday, September 14, beginning at 9 am.

Littrell will lead his first worship service that morning.  His sermon, a meditation, is entitled “The Prayer Shawl of Alan Dann.” The music will be led by Chris Bakriges with soloist Sindy Hassig.

Littrell is an Episcopal minister who retired in 2012 after serving 15 years as Rector of St. Mary’s Church on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania and as the Episcopal chaplain at Penn. Prior to that, he founded and directed five Philadelphia-based nonprofits – three focused on working with people living with HIV/AIDS, one working with abused and abandoned teens, and one working with advocates for LBGTQ rights, in which he was involved early.

Litrell and his longtime partner, Louis Skypala, met at the first national March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights on October 12, 1979, and will soon be celebrating their 35th anniversary. They have spent several recent summers and falls living at the end of Windy Hill Road in West Dover.  Littrell also spent a 2009 sabbatical year in Vermont.  They are exceedingly happy coming back to the valley.

The West Dover Congregational Church is an open and affirming congregation in the United Church of Christ that believes “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

Read more: Deerfield Valley News – Dover church gets new interim minister