Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/30/2021 4:41:03 PM

Last year, when COVID-19 hit, the First Church in Jaffrey had to change how it did things. One of those changes last year was the cancelation of the traditional annual Church Fair, one of the church’s yearly fundraisers. This summer, several ladies of the church came together to help overcome that lost revenue.

While the Church Fair returned at the end of this summer, a group of parishioners came up with an idea to help carry the church through the summer with additional donations. Pies-a-Plenty, a homemade pie sale, became a weekly fundraiser, with plans to make it a permanent addition.

It began as the brain child of Pam Hill of Jaffrey. Each Friday this summer, several members of the church baked a pie – any kind of pie – for a sale in the First Church lobby. Fruit pies like cherry or blueberry, dessert pies like chocolate mousse or lemon merengue, and even meat pies are all welcome at the table. And since the first sale on June 21, the fundraiser has been wildly popular.

“Our first sale, we were supposed to be selling pies from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. They were gone by 1:30 p.m.,” said Hill.

By last Friday, the official last pie sale of the summer, the group was making between 22 and 28 pies a week, for sale at $20 each. The sale has remained wildly popular, both among the buyers and the bakers, and Hill said many are interested in making the summer sales an annual event.

Hill said she’s seen similar pie sales work at a church in a community she regularly vacations in, and though their operation is much larger, she thought it could work to bolster First Church after a hard year impacted by COVID-19. She started with a group of 10 women at her house to do a quick tutorial on how to make four different pie varieties – though bakers aren’t limited to those recipes – and went from there.

Hill herself, with assistance from her husband Bruce Hill, makes about 11 pies a week for the sale, in a vast variety of fillings.

“I have a strong baking background, so this is something I could do,” Hill said. “It’s been fun and a nice community event.”

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Toni Gildone of Jaffrey has been experimenting with different pie recipes each week, and for the last sale on Friday, brought a peach and a cherry pie.

“I love it,” Gildone said. “I think it’s a great idea, and it’s a community effort. I think there’s a desire to continue this.”

Gildone has been baking for years, and said the weekly pie sale has become a time for her to experiment and find out what works best for her favorites. Throughout the summer, she has been trying different crust recipes and fillings she normally wouldn’t if she were baking for herself, she said – and that’s part of the fun for her.

Annie St. Cyr of Jaffrey said the sale, for her, has become a way to better know her church community.

The daughter of a home economics teacher, St. Cyr said she grew up in the kitchen, and her pies usually come from a cookbook gifted to her as a wedding present by her grandmother. Sharing recipes and being behind the sales counter together has formed firmer friendships with those she shares pews with, St. Cyr said.

“My experience with most of these ladies has been on a church level. This has been a fun, social experience. It’s a fun, light, silly things, that has allowed us to get to know each other in a personal way,” St. Cyr said. “And it’s been great to see people come in for the pies, and see how many people come back every week. A lot of people are still just happy to be out and about, seeing neighbors and meeting new people.”


Rev. Steve Miller
And Wife Dr. Jill Tyler

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 of 2021 when he visited and conducted worship. His wife, Dr. Jill Tyler, will join him in the First Church parsonage after she retires in May as professor and chair of the University of South Dakota (USD) Communications Department. Currently Leah and Luke Summit (Steve and Jill’s daughter and son-in-law) and the Summit’s two boys are staying with Miller while the young family looks for a house in the greater Boston area.

“I am very excited about getting to know all the people in Jaffrey, the church and the wider Jaffrey community!  I’ve met neighbors walking my dog and playing in front of the parsonage with my two grandsons, who are ages 2-1/2 and nine months.”  Miller confessed: “I’m a bit of a schmoozer.”

For the past 26 years Miller was the senior pastor at the United Church of Christ-Congregational in Vermillion SD.  Originally a New Englander, Miller grew up in  Worcester, MA, in what is now the United Congregational Church.  Miller shared, in his first Sunday leading worship at First Church: “I used to come up here to climb Monadnock as a kid.  It’s like returning home.  I love the mountains, the trees, the ponds and rivers – it’s beautiful here.”

A man of many interests, Miller spent five years studying Lakota spirit, language and music. He invited the Lakota community to hold sacred ceremonies at the UCC church. Speaking for the Lakota community during a farewell gathering honoring Miller, one participant observed that he and Steve have been friends for years and call each other “Kola,” the Lakota term for brother.

At this same event Miller was honored by the Vermillion Community Theatre with a poster of six photos of him in community theater productions that was headlined “Actor, Playwright, Songwriter, Musician, Director of Spirit” in appreciation of his and the church’s support in helping the theater build a center for performing arts at the Vermillion high school.  A devoted baseball fan, Miller was a leader of the Vermillion Youth Baseball Association for players 5 to 12 for many years.

The title of teacher also belongs in Miller’s repertoire, as demonstrated by his popular “World Religions” course at the University of SD.   The University’s provost Kurt Hackemer observed that an important Miller offering was titled “The Pipe and the Cross,” about the intersection of Christianity and native spirituality. “So many students considered this THE great class, the best class that they ever had at USD,” the provost added.

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. 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.

Please come to First Church in Jaffrey at 10:30 on Sundays and meet Steve Miller!

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