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Vermont Conference, UCC 

E-KIT (Electronically-Keeping In Touch)

April 9, 2014 - Vol. 7, Issue 14
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
Lectionary and Thoughts
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Greetings Members & Friends,

Be Still!

 

This Lent I've been spending some time with Psalm 46. Well, actually, just a portion of verse 10: Be still and know that I am God! 

 

Jesus understood the 'be still' part. Throughout his ministry he sought solitude and quiet places to pray.

 

Matthew 14:22-23 (The Message)

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

 

Mark 1:35-37 (NRSV)

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.  And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you."

 

Luke 5:15-16 (The Message)

Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.

 

John 6:15 (NRSV) (after feeding the 5,000)

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

 

Four different Gospels. Four stories from different points in Jesus' ministry. One commonality: Jesus valued quiet, solitary time for reflection and prayer and renewal.

 

Sometimes people tell me that although we proclaim that God is Still Speaking, they're not hearing anything. I believe that God IS still speaking, but I think we've forgotten how to listen, because listening happens best in solitude, in quiet, in prayer. Which, not coincidentally, is completely at odds with our noisy, frantic, regimented world.

 

Aristotle had it right when he said "The goal of action is contemplation." It's OK to be busy, and we have accomplished much in our busyness, but being busy is not the end to itself.

 

As the rush of Holy Week comes, (well, anytime really) and we are over programmed and over committed, I invite you to set aside some time that remains unscheduled - time for solitude, for quiet, for reflection, for prayer. See if perhaps it isn't easier to hear if we're really listening. It worked for Jesus.

 

Peace,

 

Jim

Rev. Jim Thomas

Associate Conference Minister for  

Stewardship, Church Vitality, and Finance 

 

Conference News

Conference Ministers Schedules

~Lynn Bujnak:  On Saturday, April 12, Lynn will be participating in funeral and then attending a Department of Mission meeting at the conference office.  On Sunday, April 13, she will be worshipping at the 1st Congregational Church in Morrisville and then giving a Partners in Sacred Spaces presentation.

~Pam Lucas:  On Saturday, Pam will be participating in a funeral.

~Jim Thomas:  On Friday, Jim will be giving a Partners in Sacred Spaces presentation at the United Church of Dorset & E. Rupert.  On Saturday, he will be offering a leadership retreat at the 1st Congregational Church in Springfield.

 

Please Hold in Your Prayers ...

... The family of Katherine P. Tuttle who died April 8 at her home in Plymouth.  She was 89.  Katherine was the mother and mother-in-law of Revs. Charles and Barbara Purinton.  Arrangements are pending.

 

Summer Lunch Program Grants

Deadline:  May 15, 2014

 

 Click here for the "2014 Summer Lunch Grant application form."  

 

For more information visit Hunger Free Vermont at www.hungerfreevt.org or contact Vermont Conference, Department of Mission, Summer Lunch Grant Coordinator Mary Lou DeCosta (colchsummerlunch@aol.com).

 

 

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 Deadline:  April 15, 2014

(April 20 with $25.00 late fee)

  

Annual Meeting Webpage

 

 

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Lodging Alert! - Due to overwhelming interest in this year's Annual Meeting and its venue, we have heard that the Lake Morey Resort has sold out of rooms.  You may want to contact the Resort (802-333-4311) to be put on a waiting list or arrange with a friend to share a room.  Here are some "Upper Valley" lodging suggestions including the White River Jct./W. Lebanon area about 22 miles away.  Visit:  http://business.hartfordvtchamber.com/list/category/hotels-motels-49 or http://lebanonchamber.com/visitors/lodging/.   These are "Upper Valley" lodging suggestions that Dartmouth College makes to its alumni:  https://alumni.dartmouth.edu/visitingcampus/UpperValleyLodging.

   

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Annual Meeting Materials/Documents - are posted on the Annual Meeting Webpage.  

  

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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.  

  

 

Association News
Association Spring Meetings

Addison Association - Sunday, May 4, Shoreham

Grafton-Orange Association  - Sunday, May 4, West Fairlee Village

Northeast Association - Saturday, May 10, Hardwick

Southwest Association - Sunday, May 18, Benson

Windsor-Orange Association - Sunday, May 18, Roxbury

Champlain Association - Sunday, June 1, Burlington

Windham Union Association - Sunday, June 8, Westminster West

 

Click here for for further details as available.

 

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 Southwest Association - Southwest Breezes, Spring 2014 Newsletter  - Click here

    

   

Items of Interest

Boston Marathon Prayer - Massachusetts Associate Conference Minister Don Remick writes: This Easter season marks the anniversary of the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. There will be many ways in which people and churches may be marking this anniversary. Ian Lynch, on behalf of The Disaster Resource Team, has crafted this prayer for use in MACUCC churches. Please feel free to use it and adapt it as needed.

 

 

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Summer Trip to El Salvador! - Bethany Church, Montpelier invites you to join its summer trip to El Salvador!  A group from Bethany and other Washington Association churches will spend the second week of August in El Salvador.  Bethany has had a relationship with a village in El Salvador for 22 years.  Trips include two nights in the village and several days learning about the country, its people and their faith from a wonderful home base guest house in San Salvador.  Tentative dates are August 9-17, and all-inclusive cost is approximately $1500.  If you think God might be nudging you toward this faith adventure, contact Theresa Lever at 802-229-0415 or thelevers@comcast.net.

 

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Earth Day Sunday - Earth day is an opportunity to reflect on the wonders of God's Creation. With a little planning and a lot of passion you can do much to have an Earth day you'll remember for years to come. You can use any of these ideas to get your congregation fired up about caring for God's creation.

 

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 each year, and churches are urged to celebrate Earth Day Sunday near this date. In 2014, Easter is April 20, so you may wish to designate April 27th as Earth Day Sunday, or another date that works for your church.

 

Our partners at Creation Justice Ministries produce Earth Day Sunday resources each year. With sermon starters, prayers, bulletin inserts and great information on a variety of environemental issues, this ecumenical resource is a wonderful starting point for your congregation's celebration.

 

The 2014 resource on "Holy Water" is ready! Download it now!  More Information: http://www.creationjustice.org/earth-day-sunday-in-your-church.html.

 

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Plant peace. Plant hope. Plant a tree - If I knew that the world would end tomorrow, I would continue to plant my apple trees. -attributed to Martin Luther.  As we learn more about climate change and the perils it poses for the planet, we can throw up our hands and give into despair. Or we can work to preserve rainforests that sequester carbon and plant trees to be managed sustainably.   Click here  to read this op-ed piece by Meighan Pritchard who serves  as Minister for Environmental Justice for the United Church of Christ.

 

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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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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

 

 Our Definition of Peace Determines The Peace We Seek

 

For some the term "peace" refers to the interval between wars. For others it means an alternative to war and other violence. (The passing of peace at church is something very different from either - it is an expression of good wishes, or wishing God's blessing on the other.) To be a peacemaker, or to know which actions to support in an effort to move toward peace, we must know what we mean by "peace."

 

Is peace between/among nations the same as peace between young siblings? How about between neighbors, within a community, etc.? Should they be approached the same way? Are there common elements?

 

In the nineteenth century the Colt single action revolver was called "The Peacemaker." In the twentieth century an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (the MX) was called "The Peacekeeper." The message is clear: fight violence with violence or the threat of violence. That certainly has been a central element of international (intertribal) relations for thousands of years. Is violence, or the threat of violence, the best, or only, way to reduce violence? Is there an alternate path? Can humanity continue to exist on the violence path?

 

There are several who have said, and shown, that other paths are possible. We may think of Jesus, Gandhi, Mandela, Tutu, Chief Seattle, Sojourner Truth, Chief Joseph, M. L. King, jr., Malala Yousafzai. The website http://peace.maripo.com/p_peacemakers.htm  has a list of 1,259 Notable Peacemakers Throughout History and references to other similar list. Several are on the list for one act or cause; a bending of the Arc of History toward justice. What I am asking of you is to take every opportunity you can to bend the Arc of History toward justice. On its own the Arc of History bends toward violence.

 

--John LaRue, member Richmond Congregational Church United Church of Christ.   

 

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

 

 

 

Holy Week Services, Performances and Other Events - click here for a listing.  

 

 

 

 

 

Fanning the Flames... Filling your well... Spring Retreat for Clergy Couples - Friday May 2, 2014 - Saturday May 3, 2014. Hallelujah Farm Retreat, Chesterfield NH with Revs. Sandy and Roger Daly.  Click here for a flyer.

 

 

 

 

Ministry Workshops from Andover Newton Theological School

 


Red Cross Shelter Fundamentals Trainings

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

 

 

 

  

UCC Office Support Staff Network (UCCOSSN) Annual Conference.  April 24 - 26, 2014.  Charlotte, NC.  Registration Deadline:  April 14, 2014.  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 Conferences Click 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 upcoming webinars/online courses from the Center for Progressive Renewal, click here.

  • 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 17. [Deadline to submit events:  April 17, Noon].    

 

Don't miss these events: 

 

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


Stewardship Message for April

 

Stewards of Holy Ground

 

And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun,  

and his clothes became dazzling white. Matthew 17:1-2

 

Transfiguration?

 

It takes me back to a time when I was lured to Ledges State Park by a beautiful autumn day. There I hiked under a canopy of reds and golds, up and up a hill. After about two hours I came out along the edge of the hillside. There, stretched out before me, was the broad Des Moines River valley, full of sunlight and crisp fresh air. I stood and drank it in.

 

Then I followed the trail around a corner and there, right on the edge of the drop-off, was a baby oak tree. It was about 12" tall, merrily waving its 6 or 7 adult-sized leaves in the breeze. The sunshine caught the leaves and turned them blazing red... the burning bush! I'm standing on holy ground.

 

Really, all God's precious earth is holy ground.

 

God has a way of providing transfiguration moments... a mountain top experience (Matt 17:1-2), a burning bush experience (Exodus 3:2-3). Perhaps we might celebrate Earth Day (April 22) this year with a prayer of profound thanks for all of God's creation and an act of caring for the earth which sustains us.

 

 

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: Matthew 27:11-54, the story of Jesus' crucifixion.

(There are three options for the Gospel reading this week. The thoughts below are based on the Passion Narrative)

 

Here are some thoughts for the week:

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Our suffering is not worthy the name of suffering. 

When I consider my crosses, tribulations, and temptations,

I shame myself almost to death,

thinking what are they in comparison

to the sufferings of my blessed Savior Christ Jesus.

 

Martin Luther

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

There is no detour to holiness. 

Jesus came to the resurrection through the cross,

not around it.

 

Leighton Ford

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

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, The Secret of Victorious Living

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

I find it impossible to avoid offending guilty men,

for there is no way of avoiding it

but by our silence or their patience;

and silent we cannot be because of God's command,

and patient they cannot be because of their guilt.

 

Martin Luther  


 

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