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Vermont Conference, UCC 

E-KIT (Electronically-Keeping In Touch)

March 26, 2014 - Vol. 7, Issue 12
In This Issue
Conference News
Annual Meeting News
Association News
Items of Interest
Peacemaker's Pulpit
UCC News Updates
Upcoming Events, Webinars, Online Seminars...
Calendar
Stewardship Message for March
Lectionary and Thoughts
Quick Links

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·VAST

 

Annual Vermont
Low Income Advocacy Day
at the Legislature!!

 

 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Statehouse

Montpelier, VT 

 

You are invited. 

 

You will be inspired to experience how our church is working to improve the lives of low-income Vermonters!

 

Click here for a bulletin insert/flyer with all the details.

 

For more information, contact:  Betty Edson bedson30@gmail.com, 802-728-4057 / Theresa Lever thelevers@comcast.net, 802-229-0415.

   

 

 
 
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Greetings Members & Friends,

Dear VTCUCC:

 

How are you doing this Lent? Where is your journey through these forty days taking you? What are you learning or experiencing?

 

In my own spiritual practice I am journeying with the gospel of John. Today's reflection was on the raising of Lazarus. The person offering the reflection described this sculpture by Jacob Epstein that currently resides in the chapel of New College, Oxford.  Here it seems Lazarus is struggling to obey Jesus' command to come forth! With the play of light and dark created by the open door, Lazarus appears to be half emerging from the tomb into life and half still caught in the dark recesses of death. Today's question for contemplation is: What's got you half dead?

 

It seems to me that this question can be approached from many levels. There are those things in our personal lives where we are "caught" - by routine or familiarity or fear or inertia. There are places where we are caught as churches - by, well, routine or familiarity or fear or inertia. We can ask: what is half dead in and around us? We can listen for an invitation to leave the safe and familiar behind and walk into the new life that Jesus promises.

 

I am looking forward to this coming weekend's event, "Recalculating the Way," to hear and share stories of how some of our churches, both UCC and Episcopal are daring to venture forth into the light and life of Christ. I welcome the companionship of this gathering to inspire us all to take the next step into abundant life. And, I am eager to share with you in our Annual Meeting, "Rooted and Grounded in Love" where we will practice some of the multiple life-giving ways of deepening our experience of God as individuals and as congregations. If you have not yet registered, please do so soon.

 

Blessings on your continuing Lenten journey through death to life. May we like Lazarus be unbound and set free.

 

Lynn

Rev. Dr. Lynn Bujnak

Conference Minister

 

Conference News

Conference Ministers' Schedules

~On Saturday, March 29, Lynn Bujnak, Pam Lucas, Jim and Lynn Thomas will be at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee for the Recalculating the Way event co-sponsored by the Conference and the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. 

~On Sunday, Pam Lucas will be at the Bradford Congregational Church for Karen Lipinczyk's last Sunday as pastor. 

~On Monday, March 31, Pam Lucas and Lynn Thomas will be at the Massachusetts Conference UCC office in Framingham, MA for a New England Search and Call meeting.   

 

Recalculating the Way

Registration is now closed for this event which is sold-out.  A reminder - we are unable to accept walk-in registrations at this event. 

 

Summer Lunch Program Grants

The Department of Mission is hoping UCC congregations are all currently preparing to help feed hungry children this summer by participating in a local summer lunch program or continuing or initiating your own. Schools are doing their best to help feed children during the school year with not only lunches but breakfast, after school snacks and some are even providing an evening meal. Just imagine the financial impact on a low income family when summer arrives. Children will be hungry. In 2010 approximately 28,000 children in Vermont received free and reduced price meals at school ... only 6000 participated in summer lunch programs when school was no longer in session. We don't think these numbers have significantly changed. Please make it a goal to find the other 22,000 children and feed them.

 

The Vermont Conference strongly supports our churches' involvement in Summer Lunch programs. In 2013, 16 churches received grants for their summer lunch programs through the Vermont Conference Department of Mission Summer Lunch Grant Program.

 

Your questions about existing summer lunch programs can be directed first to Hunger Free Vermont at www.hungerfreevt.org. The staff members there are working with community and/or church members in most towns in Vermont to establish or maintain/augment summer lunch programs.  Secondly, contact the Vermont Conference, Department of Mission, Summer Lunch Grant Coordinator Mary Lou DeCosta (colchsummerlunch@aol.com). She will give you advice and recommendations gleaned from 35 Vermont UCC congregations who participate in Summer Lunch Programs. Mary Lou will sing the praises of the Vermont Food Bank which provides food for a fraction of the store cost.

 

If your congregation feels called to help and would like additional funding, then click here for the "2014 Summer Lunch Grant application form."  Forms must be received by May 15, 2014.     

 

Annual Meeting News 

The 219th Annual Meeting

of the

Vermont Conference of the

United Church of Christ

 

Rooted and Grounded

in Love

 

Where: Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, Vermont

 

When: Friday and Saturday, April 25 & 26

 
     

 

Registration is now open & first posting of materials is available.

 

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Workshops - Annual Meeting workshop descriptions now available.  Click here for a listing.

 

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Worship Resources - Rev. Martha Peck of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee has prepared a selection of worship resources on the Annual Meeting theme: Rooted and Grounded in Love. They are suitable for use the same weekend of Annual Meeting, upon folks returning home, or any later Sunday, for exploring this theme.

 

~~~~~

 

Peacemakers' Breakfast at Annual Meeting - Invitation to Present on Saturday, April 26 - What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.   For the Peacemakers' Breakfast at this year's Annual Meeting, we want to highlight church activities that include elements of both mercy AND justice. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. distinguished between "a negative peace which is the absence of tension" and "a positive peace which is the presence of justice." While charity - meeting people's immediate needs - is a crucial part of our Christian mission, charity alone does not bring lasting peace. Peace happens when we reduce or eliminate those needs by changing systems, which is justice work.

 

As always at Peacemakers' Breakfast, we want to hear about your church's mission projects! Do they contain a justice element? If not, tell us how they could! Follow this link for examples of ways to add justice work to the wonderful acts of charity you already do. Contact Theresa Lever for more information and to offer your presentation. 802-229-0415, thelevers@comcast.net.  

 

~~~~~

 

Annual Meeting Worship Help Wanted - While we look forward to seeing you then, we would also like to know if there are any of you men, women, and young people who are interested in being a reader in a worship service, or a dancer, or a drummer. Knowing who has these interests ahead of time will help us help those interested be prepared for whatever level of involvement they choose. Please contact Judy Waible at jwaible@myfairpoint.net to indicate your interest in participating in one of these worship roles. 

 

Association News

Association Spring Meetings - click here for a preliminary listing.     

    

Items of Interest

College Street Congregational Church Restoration - Bill Harwood sent a selection of photos from the College St. Congregational Church's progress on its restoration following the October 2013 fire.   

 

Click here to see a collage of the photos.
  
To read more about the restoration project, click here.  To make a donation to the restoration, visit:  http://www.collegestreetchurch.org/   

  

  

 

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How Vital is Your Congregation? - If you attend a UCC church, we want to hear from you. Please help us collect research on pastoral leadership and church vitality in the denomination. Take the survey now.

 

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Mission 4/1 Earth 2014 - will be starting up next week on April 1. The program will again offer resources and opportunities to help us live out our faith through stewardship for creation: specific programs such as tree planting, advocacy letters, and projects in service of the earth, as well as worship and educational resources. If you weren't able to participate last year, don't miss this opportunity!! And if you did so last year, join again to make it another successful year. April 1 - June 15.

 

Information and resources at: http://www.ctucc.org/earth/.

 

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CWS New England Annual Kit Collection - CWS New England staff recently met the CWS Emergency Response Specialist for the eastern seaboard. While the devastation caused from natural disasters is sobering, it was encouraging to hear about the very coordinated and immediate response CWS and other organizations provide in times of need. Being able to offer CWS Kits in response to a disaster is a vital part of our work. Your compassion and commitment have helped make this possible!

 

It is time again for our annual CWS Kits collection, which provides a great opportunity for local communities to participate, offering a drop-off point in lieu of mailing or shipping CWS Kits to us.

 

CWS School Kits are especially needed at this time. We've received requests for more than 50,000 CWS School Kits already this year, but don't have enough to fill the request. Part of this request would go to children in Syria. Please consider assembling kits this spring. CWS Kits can be dropped off at one of our many Depot sites.

 

Interested in learning about where kits were shipped to last year? Check out the CWS Kits Report. Your support truly makes a difference in the lives of children and families the world over. Thank you!

 

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Congregational Toolkits on Mental Health Challenges - You can use these toolkits to educate your congregation about a variety of mental health challenges. Each toolkit contains background information on the brain disorder, handouts, tips for clergy, a list of ways your congregation can help and additional resources you can use to learn more about the particular illnesses.

 

Congregational Toolkits currently available:

  • Dementia

  • Introduction to Mental Illness

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Mental Health Ministry with Children and Families

Visit the UCC Mental Health Network webpage to review the toolkits.

 

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R.E.A.D.Y! (Revolutionary, Engaged and Driven Youth)  - Global Ministries is pleased to announce a new justice oriented, free online youth curriculum called R.E.A.D.Y! (Revolutionary, Engaged and Driven Youth). In four sessions, R.E.A.D.Y. takes youth on a journey of self-discovery to broaden their view of themselves, the church, the community, and their place in the world.

 

Session 1 Challenging our assumptions and prejudices / Session 2 Redefining mission in the context of increasing diversity / Session 3 Discovering differences and similarities to people in different cultures / Session 4 Realizing God's mission requires a constantly evolving world view.

 

In each session there are Bible quotes (linked to the appropriate scripture passage), reflection questions, quotes for reflection, embedded videos, and exercises. Each session could be completed in one hour with a Bible passage/discussion and video/reflection question. The resource can also be used for adult study.

 

The Global Ministries Mission Education team welcomes your feedback and has provided a link at the end of Session 4 (ready@ucc.org).  

 

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Old South UCC Boston Marathon Scarf Project - Marathoners from around the world come to the Church of the Finish Line - Old South Church in Boston - for our annual Blessing of the Athletes. In this year of Remembrance and Hope, our vision is to wrap each runner in the love poured into stitches of handmade blue and yellow scarves. We promise to wrap runners in your love until all your scarves are distributed.

 

Suggested Guidelines:  Scarves should be interwoven with love and courage, measuring approximately 4"-6" wide and 60" long, any pattern. Colors: blue and yellow (Use the official Boston Athletic Association colors Pantone 109C and Pantone 294C as a guide.)

 

Artists (knitters, crocheters, weavers): send or bring your scarves to arrive by April 5, 2014. We are accepting scarves immediately. Send to:  Old South Church, 645 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116 (617-536-1970 / info@oldsouth.org).

 

 

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Covenant Hills Christian Camp News - Save the Date!  Time does fly! We invite you to come to Covenant Hills to help celebrate its 25th summer of outdoor ministry on Saturday, July 12, 2014.  More details will follow, but please save the date for what will be a great day to celebrate the mission of Covenant Hills.

 

Covenant Hills has a New and Improved website and is now accepting registrations online for the 2014 camping season. Visit the new website at:  http://www.covenanthillsvt.com/ and read all the news.  Click here for a poster.

 

 

 

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Peacemaker's Pulpit

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

 

 Suffer the Little Children

 

More than 11,000 children are dead in the ongoing conflict in Syria.  Hundreds of thousands of children are displaced.  The war rages, despite efforts in Geneva to negotiate a resolution.

 

[Recently] five Syrian Christian leaders visited Washington, D.C. [and] met with members of Congress to share their perspectives. The delegation discussed the situation of Syrian Christians, and urged the U.S. not to supply military aid to any party, each of which commits atrocities.  

 

In this tragic war, Syrian Christians have experienced brutality by foreign Islamic extremists, despite centuries of good relations with their Syrian Muslim neighbors. Churches have been attacked, and Christian communities decimated and uprooted. Even so, the churches of Syria and in the Middle East offer emergency aid to any Syrian who needs it - Muslim and Christian alike.

 

In the Za`atari refugee camp in northern Jordan, the children, like Syrian children everywhere, have suffered unimaginable trauma. They have witnessed their loved ones killed. They attend classes in the makeshift U.N. schools, even as they face the elements of winter insufficiently clothed or sheltered, without a way to heat their tents.

 

Jesus said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." The dual meaning of this translation is poignant and appropriate, for it suggests the suffering of being denied one's innocence, and the incumbency to welcome and honor all unconditionally. In war, children lose their innocence; everyone grows distrustful. Jesus' message is one of trust and goodness, not of suspicion or antagonism.

 

The solution to this crisis is not more arms.  The Syrian war and the myriad calamities suffered by all God's children as a result must end. We must listen, and respond, to the people who live every day amid the horrors and hardships of this war, and those who offer welcome relief to all.

 

[This is an excerpt of a February 2014 commentary by Dr. Peter Makari, Area Executive for the Middle East and Europe for Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ.  The commentary originally appeared as part of the UCC's Witness for Justice series.  This link takes you to the complete commentary.]

 

UCC News Updates    

 


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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!

 

Upcoming Events, Webinars, Online Seminars

 

Don't Forget the Following Events!

 

map

 

Ministry Workshops from Andover Newton Theological School

 

Red Cross Shelter Fundamentals Trainings

Waterbury (April 16) / Springfield (April 24) - Click here for details.

 

 

  

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

 

Retreat and Workshop from the American Baptist Ministers Council of VT & NH

  • The Healthy Pastor: Easing the Stresses of Ministry Retreat.  March 27-28, 2014.  Plainfield, NH.  Click here for a flyer. 

  • Bivocational Ministry for the 21st Century Workshop.  March 28, 2014.  Plainfield, NH.  Click here for a flyer. 

Vermont Low Income Advocacy (VLIAC) Legislative Day.  April 4, 2014.  Statehouse, Montpelier, VT.  Click here for all the details.  

  

 

The Gospel of Mark:  A Storytelling Performance by Rev. Bert Marshall.  Saturday, April 5, 2014, 4:30 PM.  First Congregational Church, UCC, 38 South Winooski Ave., Burlington, VT.   All are invited to a special performance of the Gospel of Mark Alive. The highly acclaimed story-telling performance by song-writer, musician, singer and minister, Rev. Bert Marshall has been performed and received rave reviews from audiences of all ages throughout the northeast United States. The event is free and open to all; there will be a free will offering to benefit the global mission work of Church World Service. Rev. Bert Marshall is the New England Regional Director for Church World Service. Please plan to come and invite your friends and family.

 

Also, Lunch with Bert - those interested in learning more about the global mission work of Church World Service and the CROP Hunger Walk locally and globally are invited to a lunch with Bert Marshall, also at First Congregational Church of Burlington, on Saturday April 5 at noon.

 

Click here for a flyer.  Contact:  Lucy Samara: 802.862.5010 ext. 104 or Lsamara@firctchurchburlington.org   

 

  

   

UCC Office Support Staff Network (UCCOSSN) Annual Conference.  April 24 - 26, 2014.  Charlotte, NC.  Registration is now open.  Click here for more information/registration.

  

  

    

 

 

 43rd Annual New England Association of United Church Educators (NEAUCE) Conference: Rooted in Faith.  May 6-8, 2014.  Centerville, MA.  Registration is now open.  Registration Deadline:  March 31, 2014.  Click here to register.  Click here for the brochure.

  

  



Boundary Awareness Trainings in New England - click here for a listing.

  

Star Island (NH) - UCC-Related Summer ConferencesClick here for a listing. 

  

  

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Click here for more Upcoming Events.

   

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webinarsUpcoming Webinars & Other Online Seminars 

  

  

  • For a listing of archived webinars from the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries and Faith Trust Institute, 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 
Calendar
CalendarFor Calendar items, please see the online Conference Calendar or the latest biweekly issue of E-Events NewsletterTo submit an event: click here.  

  

The next E-Events Newsletter will be published on Thursday, April 3. [Deadline to submit events:  April 3, Noon].    

 

Don't miss these events: 

 

Conference EventsAssociation Events
Local Church EventsEcumenical Events
Regional EventsNational Events
Other Events of Interest


Stewardship Message for March

 

Stewards of More than Enough

 

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." Mark 10:21

 

Jesus' challenge to the rich ruler to give up all possessions has always been terrifying - because I'm rich. Not Warren Buffett rich, or Oprah Winfrey rich, but rich enough. I have an education, a job, a house, a mostly reliable car, food... enough. More than enough.

 

So, years ago when this was the Bible passage read in church, I worried about what our minister might say. After pointing out that Jesus would not be likely to ask the same thing of everyone, he went on to suggest an approach to faithfully deal with possessions. Step 1: Go through your possessions, identify your excess, and give it away. "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." -Luke 3:11  Step 2: Learn to distinguish "needs" from "wants" lest you  reacquire an excess. Step 3: For those possessions you've kept, find ways to share them. (There's joy in that adventure!)

 

It takes discipline to live a simpler lifestyle. I certainly have lapses, but the rewards are great. And I was finally freed to see what I had overlooked while fixated on my fear... the amazing invitation: "then come, follow me."

 

 

A message by Doris Powell, author of Stewards in the Household of God: a Resource for Holistic Year-round Stewardship.

 

 

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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: John 9:1-41, the story of the man born blind.

 

Here are some thoughts for the week:

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

None so blind as those who won't see.

 - English proverb

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

A proud man is always looking down on things and people;

and, of course, as long as you're looking down,

you can't see something that's above you.

 

 - C. S. Lewis

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

The late William F. Buckley, Jr. was a sailor by avocation.  When John Dickson, a blind sailor, attempted a solo crossing of the Atlantic, Ted Koppel invited Buckley to appear on a program with Dickson.  On the program, Buckley was quite critical of Dickson's attempt on the Atlantic.  He said, "People who can't see have no business sailing."  Dickson turned to Ted Koppel and said of Buckley, "His eyes may work, but he doesn't have much vision."

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

An artist, a pastor and a cowboy stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon.  The artist said, "What a beautiful scene!"  The pastor said, "How wonderful is God's handiwork!"  The cowboy said, "What a terrible place to lose a cow!"

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

We'll see it when we believe it.

 

 - Saul Alinsky


 

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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 information@vtcucc.org.  Items are due Friday for publication the following Wednesday.
 
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802-728-4999 | Vermont Conference, UCC | 36 N Main St | Randolph | VT | 05060
E-KIT 03-26-2014