Hi All,

I hope you’re having a great holiday weekend. I was able to make a brief trip up to Maine with my family where we discovered wild cranberries growing near our cabin. We got right outside with our baskets and picked enough cranberries to make a lovely relish to go with this Thursday’s totally amazing 100% vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.


Our theme this week will be “encouragement.” I don’t know about you, but it seems that no matter how well things are going, I still find myself overwhelmed by doubt at times. I’m hoping to create a space where we can explore Paul’s words of encouragement to the people in Philippi and then share some of our own struggles with one another. I trust we will all find support and encouragement in the process.

So please join us for prayer, song, and a dinner that will warm your spirit and satisfy you soul.

Soup for October 16th

I would welcome help with this week’s soup. I’ll whip up a few batches, but I’d love it if some of you could make a pot for our next gathering as well. I’ve got a line on some great butternut squash from a local farmer and Genevieve picked some beautiful apples with her school mates this past week. I’ll have ingredients at the church by Tuesday if you’d like to pick some up to make the soup at home. Otherwise, I’ll be in the kitchen at First Churches on Thursday and would welcome help there as well.

Please see below for the recipe, and I hope to see you at Common Ground.


 Roasted Garlic, Butternut, Apple, and Fennel Soup,

Serves 4

olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb (stalks removed), chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 cloves of garlic with sliced open at the top
1 butternut squash
3 cups better than bullion vegetable stock

Optional garnish: chopped walnuts, herb de provence, fennel fronds, heavy cream, creme fraiche, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the the squash, garlic, onions, fennel and apple in an even layer in a 13X9 inch baking dish, and toss with just enough olive oil to coat. Roast for 40 minutes, tossing half-way through, until the vegetables are fork-tender and just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and carefully squeeze garlic cloves out of their casing.

Heat a little olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the roasted vegetables and the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and let cook for another 15 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, and using a traditional or immersion blender, blend until smooth.

A Word about Leftovers

Did you know that First Churches isn’t just home to Common Ground, but to 5 different worshipping communities including Cathedral in the Night?

CITN creates a worship experience every Sunday evening on the front steps of the church with people living on the streets of Northampton, and then serves a huge feast to everyone who has gathered.

Although area churches provide food, the need continues to grow. To help meet that need, Common Ground is now contributing our leftover soup and bread to the feast, and the CITN folks are thrilled to have it all.

Some of our members have also come out to worship and help serve the meal and CITN is always happy for the extra help. I’m happy to provide more information if you’d like to serve in this way. And speaking of service…
Ministry Opportunity

I’d like to invite any of you who are not currently going to church on Sunday morning to consider working alongside me at First Churches in our Sunday School. Although I have found some wonderful and dedicated volunteers at First Churches, in general it’s hard to find teachers from amongst the congregation because people don’t want to miss out on worship.

However, for those of us who have been working with the kids, we are all amazed at what a profound experience it has been. This isn’t just child care or keeping children entertained while their parents are in worship. We’re engaged in some profound spiritual formation with these children and it’s exciting. We’re using a great curriculum that the kids and teachers love. We have 15 -25 kids each Sunday and the age range is wide enough to require 4 classes.

Sunday School at First Churches is growing, which is wonderful, but it also means we could really use help. If you think this is an opportunity you might want to pursue, please let me know. It’s a great way to show support to a congregation that has shown such support to us.


Pastor Sarah