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Vermont Conference, UCC

E-KIT (Electronically-Keeping In Touch)

November 20, 2013 - Vol. 6, Issue 47 
In This Issue
Conference News
Association News
Items of Interest
Peacemaker's Pulpit
Upcoming Events, Webinars, Online Seminars...
UCC News Updates
Calendar
Stewardship Message
Lectionary and Thoughts
Quick Links

Conference Website

Conference Directory   

Conference Calendar 

Conference Newsletter Archive
Conference Resource Center

Covenant Hills Christian Camp 

Global Ministries  

UCC Website

UCC Insurance Board 

UCC Pension Boards
VAST

 

Save the Date!

 

 

The Annual Meeting of the Vermont Conference is going to be different this year!

 

Earlier date: Friday/Saturday
April 25-26, 2014

 

New place: Lake Morey Resort
Fairlee, VT  

 

Different focus: A retreat experience, alongside needed elements of annual meeting business, with time for contemplation, exploration of spiritual practices, and more... 

 

Our theme: "Rooted and Grounded in Love"  

Ephesians 3:14-19

 

 

 

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Greetings Members & Friends,

Where Will Our Next Pastor Come From?

 

If your congregation has a settled pastor, this may not be the question at the forefront of your congregation's thoughts... but perhaps it should be.

 

The mainline church is in the midst of significant change, but that's not news anymore. One of the often overlooked components of that change is what the future of pastoral leadership looks like. Here are some startling facts:

  • 80% of all authorized ministers in the UCC are over age 50.

  • Only 6% of all authorized ministers are under age 40.

  • From 1992 to 2012, the number of employed ordained ministers decreased by more than 1,300.

  • Licensed Ministers now account for 9% of all authorized ministers.

  • There is some good news - the number of female pastors is up to 46%. (although they are, on average, still paid less than their male counterparts)

  • 70% of all UCC churches have a worship attendance of less than 100.

  • Here in Vermont, only about 1/3 of our churches have a full time pastor.

 

So, most of our pastors are over 50 years old, opportunities for full time pastorates have declined significantly, but even so there aren't enough new pastors in the pipeline to offset the massive upcoming retirements. Starting to think this is something to pay attention to?

 

The way we 'make' pastors is getting a lot of attention these days. I don't think our denomination's appreciation for a learned clergy is going away anytime soon, in fact I think the 4+3 (undergrad degree plus a Master's of Divinity) education model as part of a Member in Discernment process should remain the normative one.  And yet, there are significant obstacles before us, including:

  • With fewer churches who can afford one, there are limited opportunities for newly minted ordained pastors to be called to a full time pastorate.

  • Many seminarians graduate with more than $100K in total college debt, and face decades of student loan payments.

  • Local Church Pastor is not always the first career choice - even for those attending seminary.

 

At the United Church of Christ General Synod this past summer, one of the resolutions we considered tried to address at least part of this systemic problem. It was the resolution that sparked the most debate, more than mountaintop mining and divestment from fossil fuels and all the others. The initial resolution draft called for the establishment of a sixth all-church offering to be used for financial assistance for seminarians swimming in debt. In one of the closest votes at Synod, the resolution language was changed from "an annual all-church offering and other possible funding initiatives" to "an annual all-church offering or other possible funding initiatives." The amendment passed with 51.3% of the votes in favor. Our General Minister and President was for the amendment, stating that requiring a sixth offering would "tie the Collegium's hands...". The national setting of the church is working on options that will likely be brought to the next General Synod in 2015.

 

While the urgent matters before our churches call to us with loud voices, we cannot allow them to drown out the important matters that are also before us. Multiple Paths to Ordination and Licensed Ministry will have an important role as we go forward, but they are a partial solution to a larger challenge. How will we provide a continuum of support to those called to pastoral ministry to ensure that they are well prepared and unburdened as they begin their calling?

 

So, do you know where your next pastor is going to come from? It's not a rhetorical question.

 

Peace,

Jim

Jim Thomas

Associate Conference Minister for

Stewardship, Church Vitality, and Finance

 

UCC Statistics taken from "The United Church of Christ - A Statistical Profile, Fall 2013". The full report is at:  http://uccfiles.com/pdf/UCC-Statistical-Profile-2012lr.pdf

 

Conference News

Conference Ministers' Schedules

 

Our Conference Minister, Lynn Bujnak, has been granted a temporary personal leave of absence by the Board of Directors starting at Thanksgiving. During this time, both of our Associate Conference Ministers, Pam Lucas and Jim Thomas will be available. In addition, Lynn Thomas can direct your question or concern to the appropriate person.

 

~On Sunday, November 20, Pam Lucas will be leading a workshop and awarding a VAST certificate at Brookfield's 1st Congregational Church (Pond Village)

~On November 20, the Conference Ministers' and staff will be celebrating Jim Thomas' Ordination and Installation in Randolph.  See below.

 

Ordination and Installation of Jim Thomas 

 

 

Windsor-Orange Association

&

Vermont Conference

United Church of Christ

 

Cordially invite all members and friends to the

 

 Ordination & Installation

of

Jim Thomas

As Associate Conference Minister 

for Stewardship, Church Vitality and Finance

 

At

Bethany UCC

Randolph, VT

 

 Sunday, November 24, 2013 at
3:00 in the Afternoon

 

 Please join us after the ceremony for a reception in Fellowship Hall

 

  "No Matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here"

 

 

Click here for a copy of the announcement.

 

From the Just Peace Advocates

December 14 is the first anniversary of the Newtown, CT tragedy.  We would like to ask churches to consider, if they have not already done so, some kind of commemoration. At Bethany in Randolph, for instance, a vigil will be held in front of the church, from 4 to 6.  There will be a sign saying, "Remember Newtown and All Victims of Gun Violence".  Although anyone will be welcome to attend for the entire time or for only a few minutes, people will be asked to sign up ahead of time, in order to ensure that there is coverage.  Candles will be available for people to light and hold, and, when participants have to leave, they will place their candles in a bucket of sand, to keep the light shining.  There will be a copy of a brief liturgy, available for distribution.  Our committee would love to hear about any commemorations, so please let us know by e-mailing Betty Edson at bedson30@gmail.com or Theresa Lever at thelevers@comcast.net.  Thank you.

 

Advent Day Apart

You're Invited to a Pastor's Advent Day Apart on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, First Congregational Church of Randolph Center, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm (lunch provided) facilitated by Jim Thomas and Pam Lucas, Associate Conference Ministers.  RSVP to Lynn Thomas at thomasl@vtcucc.org.

 

 

Association News
  

Windham Union Association - Fall Meeting - Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, Minister and President of the Massachusetts Conference UCC, gave the keynote address, entitled Leading the Next Moral Revolution - The Church and Climate Change Civil Disobedience, Divestment and more, at the Association's meeting last Sunday.  A copy of his presentation is available here.    

 

Items of Interest

Right now, Church World Service is working with global partners to respond to immediate needs - providing more than 200,000 people with critical relief.

 

In partnership with ACT Alliance, we are working to provide emergency aid, including shelter, food, drinking water, medical supplies and more. BUT WE URGENTLY NEED YOUR HELP NOW.  Will you please help our devastated neighbors in the Philippines with a compassionate gift today? The more we raise, the more lives we can impact - together.  Click here for more information and to help.

 

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Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council  (VLIAC) Update  - During the Vermont Legislature's off-session, VLIAC has been involved with study committees related to low-income programs and policies. The Childhood Poverty Council, on which VLIAC has a seat, is newly revived and ready to review recommendations made in 2009. VLIAC is part of a new advisory group of advocates formed to work with the Governor for the purpose of avoiding some of the cross-purposes encountered last session. Currently VLIAC is engaged in its annual pre-session work of hearing from other advocates (hunger, housing, legal services, etc.) and developing priorities for the session. The annual VLIAC/Vermont Conference UCC Legislative Day will be Friday, April 4, with the Card Room and Room 10 already reserved for our meeting places. Karen Lafayette, our paid legislative advocate for the concerns of low-income Vermonters, is available to speak in churches and address concerns of individuals. Contact:  Karen Moran Lafayette / kmlafayette@aol.com / 802-373-3366.

 

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mapA New Vermont Open & Affirming Church.   On Sunday, November 10, the West Dover Congregational Church (UCC) adopted its Open & Affirming Statement (ONA.)  For a list of all Conference Open & Affirming Statement (ONA) churches, go to: http://www.vtcucc.org/ona.html. For an ONA FAQ, click here. For more assistance, the Vermont Conference has a volunteer Open and Affirming Consultant, Rev. Mark Pitton. He can be reached at (802) 223-2424 or at: ona@vtcucc.org.

 

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Call to Artists - Seeking two artists to exhibit in solo shows during the Vermont Festival of the Arts in August 2014. The Waitsfield United Church of Christ in Waitsfield, VT will host two art exhibits in August. The Arts Committee is looking for artists whose work is faith-based, spiritual or inspired by nature. Works can be of any medium or mixed media, including fiber, paint, drawing, sculpture, pottery, photography, two- or three-dimensional. Works can be hung and/or stand alone. Up to 20 works can be accommodated. Artists will be chosen by February 1, 2014.

 

Please submit by December 15, 2013 a resume, artist statement and electronic images to: Karen Nevin, Arts Committee,  Knevin421@gmail.com.  Questions, call: 802-496-3799.

 

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Religious Candle Safety - A new resource from the National Fire Protection Agency.

   

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Ashley and Jeffrey Dodson Hired as Co-Directors of Covenant Hills Christian Camp - The Rev. Erica Robinson Johnson, Director of Connectional Ministries for the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, is pleased to announce the hiring of Ashley and Jeffrey Dodson to serve as Co-Directors of Covenant Hills Christian Camp in Cabot, VT. The Dodsons will begin in this ministry on December 1, 2013, succeeding interim directors Bob and Joy Lowenthal, who have served the camp for the past year.

 

"Bob and Joy Lowenthal stepped in to manage CHCC at a critical time, so that the camping season operated seamlessly while we searched for a permanent camp director. Bob and Joy have blessed our camping ministry and we are grateful for their service to the conference, the camp, and to Christ," said Dave McGowan, chair of the search committee. "We are pleased to have been able to take the time needed to find directors with the talents and passion of Ashley and Jeffrey Dodson."

 

Ashley and Jeffrey come to the Annual Conference staff with 20 years of combined outdoor leadership experience at camps in Colorado, Wyoming, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Together, they have experience in the myriad of roles and functions involved in camp life, serving as counselors, program directors, fundraisers, administrators, cooks, instructors, and more. Click here to read the complete press release.   Visit the Covenant Hills Christian Camp web site at www.covenanthillsvt.com.  

 

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World AIDS Day is Coming December 1, the first Sunday in Advent and UCAN, the United Church of Christ HIV & AIDS Network is reminding local UCC churches that this is an excellent opportunity to refresh and renew our global solidarity in the mission to end the HIV epidemic. As a season full of hope and promise, Advent offers just the right tone for observing World AIDS Day in 2013. It is a time to take stock of where we are on the journey to end AIDS, remember by name those who have gone before, and take actions to achieve an AIDS-free generation. The theme for World AIDS Day through 2015 is, Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections; Zero AIDS-related deaths; and Zero stigma and discrimination.

 

 Click here for more information.  For information about a candlelight vigil at the Vermont Statehouse, click here.

 

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Puritan Worship Service for Thanksgiving - Doug Showalter, a retired UCC pastor, has compiled a costumed Puritan Worship Service for Thanksgiving, with historical commentary, which he is making available for the use of interested clergy and churches for their worship.  Click here for more information.

 

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Help Wanted Choir Director - The Waitsfield United Church of Christ has a vibrant music program with a committed and en  ergetic choir and a dedicated organist. We need a choir director who is familiar with worship and music that speaks to the work of the church. Choir season is September through May, stipend provided. Contact: Jean Joslin - email: jjoslin@accessvvt.com.

 

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Peacemaker's Pulpit

 A Monthly Message from the Department of Mission's Just Peace Advocates

 

"Beyond Territoriality"

 

by Rev. Michael Caldwell, pastor of the East Corinth Congregational Church

 

We wonder why peace is so elusive. We wonder why violence is so pervasive. One possibility for breakthrough relates to finding responses within conflict that aren't reactionary - that aren't informed by survivalist defense of territory - for persons and for nations.

 

Vestigial territoriality plagues our species even though we're running out of territory to defend. Survival in the natural world demanded violent reaction to challenge. If we could change our personal responses to conflict and transcend our natural survival instincts, that kind of change could begin to inform how dialogue could replace militarism in international affairs.

 

With faith in the nonviolence of Jesus, we can decide to bracket our emotionally charged territorial reactions to perceived threats and respond from a different, transcendent, place. By slowing down the process of dealing with normal conflict, we can anticipate non-reactive responses.

 

Below are two dialogues. The first exemplifies the primitive dynamics of an old argumentative style. The second dialogue - a more compassionate rendering of the domestic dispute - illustrates the value of one party taking a non-reactive role. This party brackets territoriality and accentuates responsibility. The result is imperfect and unfinished, but transcends the emotional violence of the first example.

 

To set the scene: Husband returns from two weeks vacation in Canada, camping on either side of a week-long professional conference. Wife stays home, choosing her two-week vacation around the holidays to see her family in the South. Wife serves pasta for their first meal in two weeks. Husband offers to grate the cheese... 

 

Dialogue One

 

I might as well do it. I've done everything else.

 

Excuse me? I'm offering to help.

 

You might as well not be here....

 

#$%^&*()+!@#$%^!&*

 

(Husband does not bracket his reaction. He doesn't like what he considers unfair resentment of his time away. He regresses, allowing his infuriation full vent. He chooses a tirade. Hell breaks loose in a big argument.)

 

Dialogue Two (same initial scenario)

 

I might as well do it. I've done everything else.

 

Uh, love, what's going on? Do we need to talk?

 

Talk about what? You're away two weeks and I still cook after a full day's work and a long commute? You might as well not be here.

 

We do need to talk... I've been in the woods all day, my first day back, so we can be warm next Winter. It's my turn to cook tomorrow night. I'll be cleaning up from the meal tonight. What are you feeling?

 

I feel like I shoulder the bulk of the work around here. It's a lotta work. I don't feel appreciated. I'm tired of being tired.

 

Sounds like we need to sit down again and refine the domestic division of labor.

 

We've done that so many times. Nothing seems to work. Nothing seems to change.

 

Must be more going on than we can see - the unconscious stuff we've surfaced in therapy. Let's bracket this and take it to the next session.

 

That's not working either. Every session feels like an attack.

 

We'd need to bring that there.

 

What about what I need?

 

What do you need right now... how about a hug?

Upcoming Events, Webinars, Online Seminars

 

Don't Forget the Following Events!

 

map

 

 

Combat Veteran Benefits and Resources Discussion - November 21, 2013, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM.  VIT Studio, Morrill Hall, Vermont Technical College, Randolph Ctr., VT.  Sponsor:  White River Jct. Vet Center.  Click here for more information.

 

Vermont Interfaith Action Health Exchange Forum November 21, 2013, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Vergennes Congregational Church, 30 S. Water St.  For more information, contact the VIA office:  office@viavt.org  or 802-651-8889.

 

DivorceCare: Surviving the Holidays.  December 10, 2013, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM.  Tunbridge Church Parish House, Tunbridge, VT.  Click here for more information.

 

 

Ecumenical Thanksgiving Services & Other Thanksgiving Events - click here for a listing.

 

  

 

 

2014 Events to Keep in Mind!

 

  • 2014 Woodbury Leadership Workshop.  January 24, 2014.  Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, MA.  Registration is now open.  Click here for more information/registration.

  • Tending the Fire Retreat Series.  February 4-6, 2014 / April 1-3, 2014 / May 27-29, 2014.  Essex Center United Methodist Church.  Registration is now open.  Click here for a flyer.

  • 2014 Ecumenical Advocacy Days.  March 21 - 24, 2014.  Washington, DC.  Registration is now open.  Click here for more information/registration.  

  • UCC New England Women's Celebration IXMarch 28 - 30, 2014.  Portland, ME.  Registration is now open.  Click here for more information/registration.

  • Vermont Low Income Advocacy (VLIAC) Legislative Day.  April 4, 2014.  Statehouse, Montpelier, VT

  • UCC Office Support Staff Network (UCCOSSN) Annual Conference.  April 24 - 26, 2014.  Charlotte, NC.  Click here for a flyer.

  • 43rd Annual New England Association of United Church Educators (NEAUCE) Conference: Rooted in Faith.  May 6-8, 2014.  Centerville, MA.  Click here  for a flyer.  

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Click here for more Upcoming Events.

   

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webinarsUpcoming Webinars & Other Online Seminars

 

Webinar: Incorporating Video into Your Church Outreach Efforts.  Thursday, November 21, 2013, 01:00pm - 02:00pm.  Sponsor:  Center for Progressive Renewal (CPR).  Click here for more information/registration. 

 

UCC Online Event - Homegrown Faith and Justice: Conversations on Faith Formation at Home. Friday, November 22, 2013. 3:30PM - 5:00PM EST. Click here for more information.

 

Online Course: UCC Identity Series.  An Ethos of Extravagant Welcome - January 13 - 20, 2014.  Sponsor:  Pacific School of Religion.  Click here for more information/registration. 

 
  • For a listing of webinars from the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries and Faith Trust Institute, "Addressing Domestic and Sexual Violence: Tools for Faith Leaders" Series, click here.

  • For a listing of upcoming webinars from the UCC Center for Progressive Renewal, click here.
  • For a list of upcoming conference calls/webinars from the UCC Pension Board, click here.
  • For a list of upcoming webinars from the UCC Insurance Board, click here.
  • For a listing of upcoming Alban Institute webinars, click here.
  • For a listing of Andover Newton Theological School's Online Seminars, click here 
UCC News Updates   

UCC issues $250,000 appeal for Typhoon Haiyan response - The United Church of Christ has issued an appeal to church members and friends for $250,000 to support Typhoon Haiyan response efforts.  The UCC will support early response and recovery efforts of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) as well as partners in the ACT Alliance that have significant operations in the Philippines, including the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lutheran World Relief and Christian Aid. Initial response activities will likely include material resource provision, emergency shelter items, drinking water and cash for work programs. Initial support grants funded by One Great Hour of Sharing have been sent to the ACT Alliance and UCCP.

 

How you can help: 

1. Pray for the people impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, UCC partner organizations active in response efforts, and all humanitarian workers.

 

2. To assist people in recovering from this disaster, please make a gift payable to your congregation marked for "Typhoon Haiyan" with the request it be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.

 

OR   Send gifts, made out to United Church of Christ and marked in the memo portion "Typhoon Haiyan" to United Church of Christ; Financial Services; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.

 

OR   Make a secure online donation to the International Disaster Relief fund. Please note "Typhoon Haiyan" in the Comments Box.

Visit http://www.ucc.org/disaster/philippines_typhoon_appeal.html  and http://globalministries.org/news/eap/update-on-uccp-response-to.html for more information.

 

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Got news? Please take a minute, and let the UC News team know. Please send your news tip via email to newsteam@ucc.org.  P.S.  Let the Conference know too - vtconference@vtcucc.org!

 

Calendar
CalendarFor Calendar items, please see the online Conference Calendar or the latest biweekly issue of E-Events Newsletter To submit an event: click here

 

The next E-Events Newsletter will be published on Thursday, November 21. [Deadline to submit events:  November 21, Noon].   

 

Don't miss these events:

 

Conference Events Association Events
Local Church Events Ecumenical Events
Regional Events National Events
Other Events of Interest


Stewardship Message for November

 

Stewards of Surprising Gifts

 

May God... who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech. - 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 from The Message

 

My brother always said he didn't want to have children, so I was a bit anxious when his son, Christopher, was born. Happily, I was surprised, relieved and thankful to see how much he loved that little baby. He was too! He marveled, "When I look at that innocent face, I realize I would give my life to keep him safe."

 

God surprises us with such amazing, transforming gifts!

 

Scripture assures us that first God gives to us: "God reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence." We can take heart; God knows our needs and hopes and wants only the best for us.

 

God's gifts enliven our capacity to respond with our gifts. In the next few weeks, many UCC churches will be inviting their congregations to remember how good God has been to them and pray about making their pledges of support for the ministry of their churches on Consecration Sunday, November 10. No matter when or how your church invites your support, with a confident and hope-filled heart let your response flow naturally. When we open our hearts to God, our response may surprise even us.

 

 

A message from Stewards in the Household of God: a Resource for Holistic Year-round Stewardship available from United Church of Christ Resources.

 

 

~~~~~

 

For monthly Stewardship messages from the UCC, click here.

 

[This resource is a free service and is made possible by your gifts to Our Church's Wider Mission.]

 

 

Lectionary Gospel Lesson & Thoughts for the Week

 

The Gospel lesson this week is:  Luke 23:33-43,
where Jesus told the thief, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Here are some thoughts for the week:

* * * * * * * * * *

The sum of the Calvary story is this:
men did their worst in wickedness,
but it was not enough to defeat the power of God's love.
They thought they had guaranteed the eclipse of Jesus in hatred and in shame.
They killed Jesus and made the tomb secure.
But it was not enough.
Jesus is the incarnate God,
and it was not possible that death should hold him.

George Buttrick

* * * * * * * * * *

All historians must confess that the turning point of the race
is the cross of Christ.
It would be impossible to fix any other hinge of history.
From that moment the power of evil received its mortal wound.
It dies hard, but from that hour it was doomed.

Charles Spurgeon

* * * * * * * * * *

The most fascinating thing in Christianity
has always been the cross.
Why is that?
Because in the long run we do not want an easy religion.
We want a commanding, challenging religion
that will take all we have and then call for more.
That is the kind of religion we have in Christ.

Harry Emerson Fosdick
 

 

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Did you know...

Your OCWM (Our Church's Wider Mission) contribution to the VT Conference makes this email newsletter and the numerous programs described herein available to you and your church.
 
Have you considered remembering the Vermont Conference in your will? You could leave a lasting legacy which would support the good works of the Conference and our churches.

To submit items for E-KIT, please send them to Sybil McShane at mcshanes@vtcucc.org.  Items are due Friday for publication the following Wednesday.
 
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E-KIT 11-20-2013