Programs: Outreach, Education, and Community Events


Outreach at Messiah is guided by the clear injunction Jesus gave us in Matthew 25.

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for 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, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Our practice of Outreach is always centered in prayer, scripture and our relationship to one another. After a period of discernment, the Outreach Committee has come to the following guiding principles for outreach at the Church of the Messiah:

We are called to be servant hosts to the neediest and forgotten.

We are called to provide the widest possible opportunities for congregation members to create a community of service.

We are called to draw on the breadth of our time, talent and treasure and to freely share them without expectation of recognition or thanks.

We are called to actively seek out new ways God may be calling us, listen for the voices of the forgotten and respond.

We call upon the presence of the Holy Spirit to help us live out these principles and discern where we may go in the future.

In response, Messiah directly supports outreach activities through financial grants, donations of material goods, volunteer hours and educational activities aimed at raising community awareness about the needs of the underserved. Among the most active programs at Messiah are:

Jayne Brooks Food Pantry – Weekly food distributions provide food for well over 100 households a month.


We always supplement the basic foods we offer with a variety of fresh produce, dairy, eggs, and frozen meats, Nevertheless, our basic pre-packed bags contain a lot of standardized canned and boxed items. During ordinary times clients could choose which of those non-perishable items they wanted, but since Covid we have pre-packed all our bags for the sake of safe outdoor service. Because such items can often start to seem unappealing, we offered the following recipe suggestions, using only foods that we provide on a weekly basis.

If you have started to find ordinary canned and packaged foods a bit boring, you might try some of these ideas for making them more interesting. All of these suggestions use only foods that we have at the pantry. It is fun to experiment with them!

Better Canned Chili
Start by gradually warming a can of ordinary canned chili in a saucepan. As you warm it, add a can of diced or whole tomatoes, with the liquid. Then drain and add any canned vegetables that you like. Corn and black beans work well, or you can add a can of drained kidney beans, green beans, or peas. Many combinations work to make the chili seem fresher and more interesting, while also making it more nutritious. It is especially good served over rice, or over the mashed potatoes you can make with our dried potato flakes. It will serve several people.

Fried Rice With Vegetables
Start by scrambling two or three eggs in a large fry pan. Use more butter than you would usually need to scramble eggs alone. If you have onion, you could cook some diced onions with the eggs. Then fold in some cooked rice and some drained canned vegetables like corn, peas or beans. You could also add some canned chicken for flavor and added protein.

Packaged Macaroni and Cheese For Adults
Mix up a box of macaroni and cheese, following the directions on the package. Then add about a half can of drained diced tomatoes. The combination tastes surprisingly good right away, but you can also put it in a baking dish and top it with some crumbled toast, perhaps with sliced or grated cheese, and bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.
If you have other ideas for using the foods we provide, please share them with us to pass along!


Based on nutritional advice provided to us by the Food Bank, we have passed on to our clients new information about the improved quality of modern canned vegetables. In the past, canned veggies were thought to lose much of their nutritional value during the delays and processes involved in canning. Apparently, however, canning now takes place very quickly and leaves intact the basic nutritional value of the vegetables. High salt content can still be a problem, but rinsing the vegetables under running water will wash away most of the salt. This information was reassuring to us because canned foods are so easily and safely stored, are relatively inexpensive, and are almost always available for purchase from the Food Bank. Of course we still try to provide fresh produce of some variety every week– and we do so in great abundance during the summer months, with the cooperation of local orchards and farm markets and community gardens. Yet we do not have the storage capacity for frozen vegetables and must rely on canned food to provide a consistent supply.

Third Thursday Lunch – Funds raised by a monthly luncheon are distributed to not-for-profit organizations that provide services in Dutchess County.  Lunch attendees are educated about the needs and goals of local agencies.

English as a Second Language – Instruction, support and advocacy are provided for members of the Hispanic community through classes in English, legal education and social events.

Storybook Project – Parents incarcerated in the Dutchess County Jail, with the facilitation of Messiah volunteers, record children’s books onto a CD which is then sent to their children along with the book so the children can hear their parents reading to them.

Linda A. Karr Cuddle Blanket Project – Volunteers sew quilted blankets for the children at risk who attend Camp Ramapo each summer.  Over 300 quilts are distributed each year.

Rural and Migrant Ministries – Messiah regularly supports projects on behalf of the children served by Rural and Migrant Ministries (providing school kits, Christmas gifts).

In addition to these ministries, Messiah supports Crop Walk, Dutchess County Coalition for the Homeless, Hudson River Housing, IRIS Refugee Program, Larrynaga Sister, Violet Avenue School and Messiah Connections.

We continue to seek new ways God may be calling us, listening for the voices of the forgotten and finding ways to respond. In addition, we take our responsibilities as community members of Rhinebeck and the Hudson Valley by offering our space and talents to many groups including AA, Al-Anon, Family Movie Night, Rhinebeck Bridge Club, Rhinebeck Chamber Music, Sinterklass, among others.

Community rallies at Messiah’s June 30th, 2018 Interfaith Service and Witness in support of Justice For All: Keeping Families Together.


Sunday Morning Forum, every Sunday at 9am in the Parish Hall

In Advent this year, we will be studying Mary Magdalene and her role as first Evangelist of the Church. Misconceptions abound given 2,000 years of largely male dominated narrative. 

In Epiphany in the new year, we will be studying the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. 

In Lent, our study will focus on the topic “Signs of the Times” which will be reflections on 6 photographs of advertising which will inspire and inform our theological reflection.

Spirituality of Retirement group: “What do I want to do when I grow up?”

At Messiah we have begun a monthly group to look at the impact of retirement on our lives. Many members of our congregation are either newly retired or approaching retirement and the reality of retiring from our life careers often brings up many consequences. While we spend a lot of time planning our financial retirement, the spiritual and identity issues are often not addressed and it is our hope that this monthly get together can explore these concerns. The book for us to begin reading in our retirement group, by Dr. Paul Donoghue titled “Are you really listening” is in. If you would like more information on the group please speak to Fr. Richard or contact the parish office.

Inclusive Language and Gender Equality Study Group

A study group that will meet three or four times during the course of the year to begin a discussion on inclusive language and gender equality. The 2018 General Convention has directed congregations to look at language in an intentional way. We will review resources available to the church and what other congregations and dioceses are doing to make our language more intentional. Our study will begin with an examination of gender and theology, deepening our understanding of how we understand God. If you are interested in being part of this conversation please speak to Fr. Richard or email the parish office.

St. Paul’s study group

A study group has formed to examine by a close textural reading, the letters of St. Paul. We meet on designated Tuesdays at 3pm in Donegan Hall. Check the calendar for the next scheduled class. If you’re interested in joining the study group, you do not need to have attended any previous classes.

To learn more about Messiah’s programs or to get involved, email the Parish Office.