2023 Sets Record for First Church Donations to Monadnock Community

First Church In Jaffrey Benevolence 

The expanded Benevolence Circle met in November and December to allocate funds raised by the 2023 Summer Fair and the Pie Sales.  Thanks to the hard work of church members and volunteers from the larger community, these two fundraising events were extremely successful. We were able to expand our benevolences into new areas and increase donations to organizations we have helped for many years. In total, $7,665 was given to the following organizations/services.

On behalf of First Church, the Benevolence Circle:

Created two camp scholarships for young people:

Horton Center, UCC Camp and Retreat Center in the White Mountains: 1 week

Scout Camp, for one Scout from Jaffrey’s Troop 33: 1 week

Continued support for established community service that target housing, homelessness, hunger, abuse, early childhood education, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, medical care, elder care

    • Home Health Care Hospice and Community Services
    • Meals on Wheels
    • Monadnock Area Psychotherapy and Spiritual Services (MAPS)
    • Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention
    • Monadnock Community Early Learning Center
    • Monadnock Family Services
    • Monadnock Adult Day Care Center
    • Shelter from the Storm
    • Reality Check
    • Got Lunch
    • JR Memorial Ambulance Service
    • Jaffrey Food Pantry

Added two new beneficiaries:

ESOL Project to help immigrants learn English through classes in Rindge and Jaffrey. Under the financial umbrella of Project Home, a nonprofit based in Keene that focuses on immigrant/refugee housing.

Southwestern Community Services: provides heating/fuel assistance to Monadnock region

Two scholarships totaling $2,000 will be awarded to Conant grads in 2024.

 First Church Christmas Fund

The offering taken at the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve 2023 was given to the Jaffrey Town Welfare Fund, which provides financial help with housing (rent, shelter, mortgages) – a primary need in Jaffrey. First Church has contributed to this agency for many years; we are the only church in town to do so, and our help is greatly appreciated.

From a Wider Perspective…

First Church is a 5 for 5 UCC church. This means that our generous congregation contributes to four special offerings* throughout the year as well as budgeting financial support for the NH and national UCC through Our Church’s Greater Mission (OCWM) program.

*One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthen the Church, Neighbors in Need, The Christmas Fund

Conant Grads Receive First Church Scholarships

On June 6, 2024, Benevolence Circle Chair Marcia Breckenridge presented two $1,000 scholarships from First Church to Aubrie Hendrickson and Katie Weidner at the Conant High School Awards Night. Each year, funds from the Summer Fair and Pie sales allow the Benevolence Circle to offer $2,000 in scholarships. Working through the Conant Guidance Office, the First Church asks for short essays that not only describe skills and future plans, but also ask students to choose a favorite event that they will always remember and share how they dealt with a difficult situation. Reading these essays is a high point of the work of the Benevolence Circle!

Aubrie Hendrikson plans to become a nurse. She already has experience in helping two different age groups by volunteering at the Jaffrey Grade School, saying that, “I love being someone the little kids can look up to for help.” She works at the Jaffrey Rehabilitation Center and enjoys visiting with the older residents. Katie Weidner plans to earn a degree in physical therapy. She has served as a Student Council officer and hopes to continue playing field hockey at the collegiate level. Both Aubrie and Katie are members of the Interact Club (a project of Rotary) which promotes and sponsors outreach to diverse groups and individuals in this country and abroad.

“It was a pleasure to hand these bright involved young women a check of support from First Church in Jaffrey,” comments Marcia who echoed their guidance counselors in saying “They are motivated, great kids who will make a difference.”

Rev. Steve Miller

The Rev. Steve G. Miller started his ministry at The First Church in Jaffrey in January 2022, after a unanimous vote of approval by the congregation in October 2021 when he visited and conducted worship. Prior to moving to New Hampshire, Miller was the senior pastor at the United Church of Christ-Congregational in Vermillion SD for 26 years.
Steve Miller graduated from Springfield College in 1981. He began studying at Yale Divinity School and transferred to the Pacific School of Religion, where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 1987. He served churches in Bethlehem, CT and Gilman, IA before going to Vermillion in 1995.

During his long tenure in Vermillion, Steve studied the Lakota spirit, language and music and invited the Lakota community to hold sacred ceremonies at the UCC church. He was also involved in community theater productions and the Vermillion Youth Baseball Association for players. The title of teacher also belongs in Steve’s repertoire, as demonstrated by his popular “World Religions” course at the University of SD

Starting Anew at First Church
Steve came to First Church during the pandemic and brought new energy and ideas to First Church as the congregation emerged from the isolation imposed by COVID. Working with the Minister of Music Gene Faxon and a growing list of volunteers, worship life not only fills the congregation with spirit but offers vision for the future. Late summer and fall showed a distinct increase in attendance, culminating with a full house on Christmas Eve 2023.

Steve has applied his teaching skills to an ongoing faith study series (usually 4-5 weeks) that has become a hub of learning and fellowship for members, neighbors and new friends. Topics explored in these sessions have included the character of faith, a mini course on world religions, a history of church music, and an examination of Christmas carols.

Steve offers pastoral care to members, neighbors, and friends in homes and care facilities. He’s committed to youth work for the New Hampshire Conference UCC - especially camping at the Horton Center in the White Mountains; serves on the board of Jaffrey’s Shelter from the Storm; and supports Jaffrey Adult Day Care by leading monthly singing events. Other community relationships include worship leadership at Cathedral of the Pines and serving as chaplain of the Scout Troup 33, who now call First Church home. Rev. Miller has also been involved with Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality in Oak Park, IL for more 30 years through retreats, conferences, and classes.

Steve’s wife, Dr. Jill Tyler, joined him in Jaffrey the First Church after she retired in May 2022 as professor and chair of the University of South Dakota (USD) Communications Department. They have five children and three grandchildren.

Gene Faxon
Minster of Music

Gene brings his experience with teaching music and his expertise on the organ, piano, and harpsichord. He leads the choir as well as organizes special musical worship and other church events. Gene is also an accomplished recorder player.  During the pandemic Gene and three ladies have become a harmonious quartet.  We enjoy their offerings on multiple occasions during our services.  The congregation joins this group in singing Taize chants and hymns selected from the Pilgrim Hymnal and the New Century Hymnal.

Judy Lessard
Administrative Assistant

Judy brings her corporate experience. Working with our pastor and music minister, she creates the worship bulletins, sends out e-blasts, and monitors phone calls and church email. Working with our treasurer, she maintains the QuickBooks database and generates financial reports. Working with the communications team, she creates, prints, and distributes the church newsletter.


In late January 2022, First Church heartily welcomed (bottom row)  Roy Lake, Pam Hill,  David Bliss and Janet Grant as new Trustees.  Nancy Elder-Wilfrid is the new Clerk and in the top row is Ann St. Cyr Gordon (Treasurer) and Sam Greene Moderator.


Sam Greene, Moderator
Ann Gordon, Treasurer
Nancy Elder-Wilfrid, Clerk


David Bliss
Janet Grant
Pam Hill
Roy Lake
Tom Warren
Dan Wilfrid