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7. Where does Vermont fit in God’s Trajectory for You?

“If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it would all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.” – President Calvin Coolidge, born in Plymouth Notch, from his speech September 21, 1928, touring his home state to assess the progress of recovery from the devastating 1927 flood.

 

We hope these words by President Calvin Coolidge resonate with you as you consider the potential of living and serving God in Vermont. Following is a glimpse of life in the Brave Little State.

 

FREEDOM AND UNITY (State Motto)

 

Vermont has the distinction of being one of only a few states that were independent prior to joining the United States. Vermont declared itself an independent republic on January 17, 1777. Its constitution was the first to outlaw slavery. Vermont minted its own coins, provided postal service, and remained independent from the union until 1791, when it became the first state to join the original thirteen in ratifying the U.S. Constitution. The deep roots of Vermont’s independent spirit continue to this day.

 

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE IN VERMONT?

 

Vermont consistently ranks high in quality of life. Here is a sampling of comments – what people love and why people stay:

 

  • “I love the intimacy of our town. I’ve developed an easy rapport and loyalty to local shopkeepers and businesses.”

  • “It’s like living in a park – the vistas of mountains, fields, forests, rivers and lakes are radiant in every season.”

  • “There’s a vibrant sense of community – I always run into people I know.”

  • “The peaceful quality of life coupled with the breathtaking beauty sets the scene for new ideas. There are precious pockets of energy and creativity around every corner.”

  • “I’m continuously impressed by the hardworking, spirited people I meet; folks here are fiercely proud of their history.”

  • “I love how Vermonters deliberately cultivate a feeling of togetherness with their community through concerts, fairs, and festivals, and even their microbreweries!”

  • “With our tradition of Town Meeting Day, every voice has an opportunity to be heard, local decisions are made together. That’s grass roots democracy at its best!”

  • “Living close to nature is more beneficial than I could have ever imagined.”

  • “The Burlington area has an extraordinary amount of festivals celebrating diverse ranges of the arts, food, and culture. The local restaurant array is full of delicious farm-to-table restaurants with more breweries than I can count, and a burgeoning new food truck scene.”

  • “Our one congressional representative and two state senators in Washington DC are accessible. Though few in number, they have a strong national voice.”

  • “Within a week of moving to Vermont, our local state representative paid a visit to welcome us, and registered us to vote as we chatted, sitting on our front porch steps. Wow!”

  • “Small towns with integrity and heart.”

WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?

 

Ah yes…the weather…  It begins to look a lot like Christmas in November, and can still look like Christmas on Easter, with its liturgical white echoed in the snow. The average winter low temperature in January is 7 degrees, though days seeing 25 below zero occur each winter. In addition to drawing skiers from across New England, the snow-covered landscape is a breathtaking, luminous sight while driving to church on a crisp, pristine Sunday morning. Annual snowfall is around 86”. Vermont gets some kind of precipitation about 87 days per year, be it rain, hail, sleet, or snow. Average rainfall is 43”.  July sees an average high of 79 degrees, with possible hot, humid days topping the mid 90’s. Our dramatic seasons are an engaging cycle that rejuvenates the soul. Spring, summer and fall are ever so much sweeter, following our long winters. As for winter driving, good snow tires are a necessity, and a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle is recommended, while always allowing extra time to reach your destination.

 

WHAT ABOUT RELIGION IN THE LEAST CHURCHED STATE?

 

Vermont has the dubious distinction of being the least churched state in the country. Only 34% describe themselves as religious. Of those, a little more than half identify as Protestant, a little less than half as Roman Catholic, and a small percentage as Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and other.  There are 6,126 Episcopalians in Vermont. The largest Protestant denomination in Vermont is United Church of Christ, followed by Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, LDS, Pentecostal, and Unitarian Universalist.

 

Though abundant information about Vermont can be found on the Internet, here are a few highlights, to give an overview of what to expect in our northern New England home.

 

OUR MOUNTAINS

 

The Green Mountain Range runs from north to south down the middle of the state from Canada to Massachusetts. The oldest long distance hiking trail in the U.S., the 270 mile “Long Trail,” follows this range. The highest peak in Vermont is Mount Mansfield in Stowe, at 4,395.3 feet. Our state song is These Green Mountains. Even our license plates are green. around tourism in every season.

Spring
Late spring marks the start of Maple Creamee season, as evidenced by this photo from a student at Rock Point School.
Summer
Summer is great time to check out "Dump Daze," a community yard sale on the lawn of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Springfield, VT.
Autumn
Holy Hikes are held year-round and can be especially nice as the leaves change color in autumn.
Winter
Winter does what it likes. In this photo from 2015, no amount of snow can deter congregants at Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre, from their outdoor Easter Sunrise service.
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Click on a thumbnail image above for additional information.

The mountains also define geographic areas of The Episcopal Church in Vermont – the Northeast Kingdom, Central Vermont, the Upper Valley along the Connecticut River in the east, the Champlain Valley and Chittenden County, along with the farmlands of Franklin and Addison Counties in the west, the Lake Champlain Islands to the north, and south of Route 4 (sometimes referred to as the Mason-Dixon Line of Vermont), with Bennington and Manchester areas west of the mountains and the Brattleboro area east of the mountains. Our two interstate highways work well for north-south travel but not for east-west.

 

OUR VALUES OF PRESERVATION AND CONSERVATION

 

Vermonters make thoughtful decisions about our treasured landscape. Air quality and water quality rank high. You will not find billboards or skyscrapers in Vermont. The tallest building, located in Burlington, is only 11 stories high. Over a million acres of land, including 52 state parks and the Green Mountain National Forest, are protected from development.

 

OUR AGRICULTURE

 

Vermont is the country’s largest producer of maple syrup, making as much as 500,000 gallons each year. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Maple products galore are illustrative of Vermont’s signature maple branding. In March, sugar on snow is a traditional celebration of sugaring season – hot syrup drizzled over snow, which turns it into taffy, served with a raised donut and dill pickle. Maple Creemees (soft serve maple ice cream) are a year-round favorite.

 

Featuring organic and locally grown products, farmers markets and health food co-ops are thriving  in many communities. Vermont specialty food products abound, including artisanal cheeses, microbrewery beers, local wines, flavorful ice creams, and sauces. The farmland in Vermont produces large crops of apples, potatoes, corn, and other vegetables. Vermont is also known for eggs, honey, Christmas trees, lumber and pulp wood, and greenhouse and nursery products.

 

Dairying is a primary farm industry, producing 300 million gallons of milk each year. Preserving working dairy farms and the open landscape associated with them is important for most Vermonters. Immigrant farm workers are essential to dairy operation.

 

OUR FOUR SEASON OUTDOOR RECREATION  

 

Vermont is famous for skiing and snowboarding. Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice- skating, ice fishing and even dog sledding are also popular. Summer and fall invite mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, camping, swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking. After the long winter, avid gardeners eagerly emerge to plant and nurture their backyard plots. The fall foliage season is glorious, attracting “leaf peepers” (tourists) from far and wide.

 

OUR ARTS AND CULTURE

 

Vermont draws creative people. Per capita, it has the most writers of any state, the fourth highest number of visual artists, and the seventh highest number of artists of all types in the U.S. (2000 Census). Vermont’s natural beauty and historic villages attract film makers as well. Beetlejuice and Forrest Gump include scenes filmed in Vermont. Quality theater venues can be found throughout the state, with ambitious professional stage productions. Smaller seasonal performances take place in some of our parishes. Local artists often use our walls to showcase their work.

 

The hills are alive with the sound of music, spanning renowned classical, jazz, ethnic, and contemporary offerings. Many of our parishes serve as venues for concerts and recitals.

 

We welcome the gifts of Vermont artists.

 

OUR EDUCATION, BUSINESS AND HEALTHCARE

 

Vermont is home to more than 30 colleges, universities and technical schools, many of which are known for small class size and the individualized attention they can provide students. In the public schools, per pupil spending in Vermont is $18,692 a year, and the average pupil to teacher ratio is 11:1.

 

Vermont is becoming a hub for many expanding industries, including alternative energy and tech, in addition to our well-established medical, educational, outdoor recreation industries, craft beverages and artisan food. Vermont ranks in the top 10 for clean technology and in the top five for start-up activity. The granite and marble quarries in the state have drawn skilled craftsmen for centuries. An important segment of the state economy revolves around tourism in every season.

 

Vermont ranks fourth best in the nation for overall healthcare access, third best for physician access and second in overall insurance coverage, with 95% of people covered. However, thousands struggle to meet the costs of health care, and there are inadequate resources for mental health care. The University of Vermont Medical Center and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center are prestigious hospitals in our midst, with many fine smaller regional hospitals throughout the state.  Fortunately, there are no hospitals here that are for-profit, or hospitals that refuse services based on ability to pay.  There is growing enthusiasm across the state for a much better payer system such as Medicare-for-all. 

 

LESSER KNOWN FACTS AND TIDBITS

 

Montpelier is the smallest state capital, with a population of 7,855 (2010 U.S. Census), and it’s the only state capital without a McDonald’s – a fact locals are proud of! Vermont ranks as the 49th largest state, with the 2018 population estimate of 623,960. Our biggest city is Burlington, 42,417 population (2010 U.S. Census).

 

There is current debate over the number of seasons in Vermont. Some say we have five seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Mud Season. Others claim only two – Winter and Road Construction. Both are accurate.

 

Appendix 3 has additional information about Vermont. Be sure to add to your trivia database and check it out.