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Vermont Conference, UCC 

E-KIT (Electronically-Keeping In Touch)

June 11, 2014 - Vol. 7, Issue 23  
In This Issue
Conference 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,

Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM)

What do we get for that?

 

This past Sunday, I was honored to be invited to preach at the Second Congregational Church UCC Londonderry. When I'm asked to share a message about Stewardship, I usually get a mention or two in for OCWM without having it take over entirely. This past Sunday was different in that I was asked to specifically speak to OCWM, since education about Our Church's Wider Mission was part of their Stewardship theme for the year. It gave me a chance to reassess what I've learned, and how important it is.

 

You probably know that OCWM is the largest single income stream for your Vermont Conference, and while delegates at Conference Annual Meeting (representing you) vote a suggested level of support, it is not compulsory. Churches sometimes think like businesses, so often I am asked a question something like: "So let's say we decide to send a contribution to OCWM. What does our church get for that?"

 

I would suggest to you that that's the wrong question to ask. Mission giving is not a transaction. Mission giving is giving to a mission. When your church supports the local food shelf, or a homeless shelter, or missionary work overseas, do you ask, "What do we get for that?" I suspect not, because you understand that your gifts are making a positive difference in someone's life. So perhaps a better question would be, "How will our contributions improve someone's life?" Now THAT question, I would love to answer.

 

139 churches make up the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ, and together, we do much that our churches could not do on their own.

 

Here are some examples:

 

*  Helping churches call a new pastor: when a pastor leaves, it can be a very trying time for a church. Saying goodbye properly, forming an interim search committee, finding and calling an interim pastor, working through interim tasks, forming a search committee, writing a profile, receiving and reviewing pastor profiles, establishing a candidate, doing a neutral pulpit, and then a candidating Sunday, then negotiating a call agreement, and a start date, and an installation. One of the primary functions of the Conference is Search and Call. Walking with a church through this journey. Resourcing them along the way. On average, it costs the Conference about $8,000 per church per search. This year, we will have about 18 churches in the search process.

 

*  Mission here in Vermont, including our significant support for the Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council, a full time lobbyist in Montpelier who represents those who usually have no voice. Most recently, we were in the middle of the conversation about raising the minimum wage.

 

*  And the summer lunch program. Each summer we give thousands of dollars in grants to about two dozen churches to help support their summer lunch program, for kids who need meals when school is out.

 

*  We work for Prison Justice

 

*  And Peace advocacy

 

*  And disaster planning and response. After Irene hit, within a few days, the national setting of the UCC sent $2000 grants to some of our churches as seed money to help begin recovery efforts. And then bought and equipped a trailer designed to assist clean up teams. Over the next year, the Conference distributed over $40,000 in grants to individuals, based on requests approved by our churches.

 

*  We support our local church pastors with

  Minister's convocation

  New pastor support groups

  Regular gathering of interim ministers

  And support for when a pastor needs a pastor

*  We plan events designed to educate and improve congregational vitality. In just the past three years, we have brought noted author Diana Butler Bass to Vermont, held training days on the use of social media by pastors and congregations, and presented two great Vitality events: New Keys for an Old Door, and Recalculating The Way, an ecumenical effort with The Episcopal Church of Vermont.

 

*  We provide resources and training on Stewardship, with workshops available on narrative budgeting, year round stewardship, annual campaigns, capital campaigns, planned giving, governance, strategic planning, leadership retreats, and more.

 

Well, there's lots more too. We've recently updated the OCWM brochure, and I encourage you to download and share it with your congregation. Want pretty color copies on nice stock? Just email me and I'll send them right out.

 

And we do it with 65% of your OCWM contributions, while the other 35% is sent off to the national setting of the United Church of Christ for their work on our behalf.  

 

Perhaps your church was one of those that found it necessary to reduce support during the last recession. Overall, OCWM contributions from our churches dropped 25%. With the financial picture improving in most of our congregations, perhaps now is the time to begin restoring past cuts, or committing to an increasing level of support. If all of us can do a little, it will add up to a lot. But you know that already. That's how it works in your church.

 

If you have any questions about OCWM, please be in touch. Want some help with Stewardship or OCWM education? Ditto! There is so much we can do together. Ask yourselves: What good could be done if we can be more generous in our support of the Vermont Conference and United Church of Christ?

 

And lastly, thank you! Thank you for your support, and the mutual ministries and missions the Conference does with you and on your behalf.

 

Peace,

            

Jim

Rev. Jim Thomas

Associate Conference Minister

for Stewardship, Church Vitality, and Finance

 

Conference News

Conference Ministers' Schedules

~Jim Thomas:  Sunday, June 15 - Preaching - Federated Church of Rochester.

 

Staff Transitions

 This summer we will reluctantly say goodbye to two of our valued staff members. Sybil McShane has decided to retire for the second time. Her last day of work with us will be July 31, 2014. It is hard to express how much Sybil will be missed. In the five years she has worked with us, she has completely overhauled and catalogued the Resource Center. She is also a tireless researcher who has come to know the UCC and its resources better than many who have been raised in the tradition. She has improved our "e-communications" and has served as an assistant for Jim Thomas in handling and recording deposits.

 

We are also sorry to say goodbye to our Administrative Assistant, Lynn Thomas. Lynn has worked for the conference since 2006. She has decided that it is time for a change in her life and will be taking some time away from paid employment to spend with family. Lynn has served the Vermont Conference in so many important ways: as receptionist, search and call secretary, organizer and keeper of files, staff liaison with Annual Meeting Planning, registrar for major events, and that's just a sampling! Lynn's last day of work will be August 15, 2014.

 

The Personnel Committee, our Board of Directors chair and the professional staff are working to identify our support staff needs currently and in the coming months. As decisions are made, we will let you know. In the meantime, please feel free to contact Sybil and Lynn T. to express your appreciation for their ministry on behalf of the VTCUCC.

 

--Rev. Dr. Lynn Bujnak, Conference Minister

    

Transitions 

~Rev. Marjorie MacNeill will be concluding her Interim work at Richmond Congregational on June 15.
~Rev. Katelyn Macrae has been called to be the settled pastor at Richmond Congregational Church and will begin on June 18.
~Rev. Dereen Vanderlinde-Abernathy will be retiring as pastor from the First Congregational Church in Berlin on June 30.
~Rev. Emily Heath will be leaving as pastor of the W Dover Congregational Church on June 30. She has been called to be the next pastor at the Exeter (NH) Congregational Church. She begins there July 15.
~Rev. Roger Daly has resigned as Interim Minister at Christ's Church, Saxtons River effective June 15.
~Rev. Richard Miller retired as pastor from Plymouth Congregational Church in E Charleston on May 25.
~Rev. Robin Junker-Boyce has resigned as Associate Pastor of Bethany Church Randolph as of May 18.
~Rev. Judy Kennedy is resigning as pastor from the First Congregational Church of St Albans as of June 30. She is moving to Illinois to care for aging parents.
~Rev. John Sanborn is resigning as pastor from the Pawlet Community Church as of June 30. He and his wife are moving to Oregon.
~Rev. David Connor is retiring from his position as Associate Pastor at the Old Meeting House in E Montpelier as of June 8.
~Rev. Daniel Cooperrider will be installed as pastor of the Weybridge Congregational Church on June 8. He began there in September 2013.

~Rev. Timothy Forester, who served churches in Vermont from 1995 to 2008, has retired in Winona, MN, after serving First Congregational Church of Winona, UCC for four years.  If you would like Tim's contact information, please let the conference office know.

 

Environmental Ministries Committee News

Environmental Workshop for Resources & Inspiration

 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

10 AM - 2 PM 

Bethany United Church of Christ, Randolph

 

Come join us for this half-day workshop to explore a variety of resources for environmental ministries available this year. "Not Ordinary Times," a program of Eco-Justice Ministries, is a challenging call to "be the church" in this time of environmental crisis -- backed up with a comprehensive set of resources and background materials that will guide churches through a six-month season of worship and preaching that takes seriously the devastation of the global environment.

  • Preview print and video resources.

  • Find out more about Not Ordinary Times.

  • Learn more about being a Green Justice Church.

  • Bring resources to share.

  • Lunch and snacks will be provided.

  • Watch this trailer of "The Wisdom to Survive." We'll show an excerpt at the workshop.

THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE: Climate Change, Capitalism & Community?Trailer
THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE: Climate Change, Capitalism & Community?

 

Please contact Fred Taylor at rtaylor@antioch.edu with questions or to register.  RSVP Deadline:  Monday, June 16, 2014.

 

 

Association News

 

 Upcoming Installation  - Click here.

    

Items of Interest

Katy Gerke Memorial Program - Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL)  is launching the Katy Gerke Memorial Program, a matching grant program to help churches make their buildings more energy efficient. Two types of grants to be available:  1) Grants to conduct energy audits or assessments of church buildings and 2) Grants to implement efficiency improvements identified by energy audits.    Click here for complete details.  For more information, please contact VTIPL Coordinator, Betsy Hardy, at 802-434-3397 or email: info@vtipl.org.

 

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Vermont Pastors at Chautauqua - Three Vermont pastors have been name Chautauqua UCC Society "Chaplains of the Week."  Revs. Barbara and Charlie Purinton have been selected for the week of August 2-9 and Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen (United Church of Underhill) for the week of August 9-16.  Congratulation!  To read more about the Chautauqua UCC Society and the chaplains of the week, click here.

 

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Help Wanted Youth and Children's Ministry Leader - College Street Congregational Church is currently seeking energetic and creative faith leader for 20 hr/wk position at active, open and affirming UCC Church in downtown Burlington to lead religious education program from birth through high school with emphasis on youth programming. Requires person with strong faith, love of youth and children, excellent communication and teaching ability, experience working with volunteers, skilled with technology. Full description is available by clicking here.  Resume and cover letter to apply@collegestreetchurch.org or College Street Congregational Church, 265 College St., Burlington, VT 05401.

 

Bell Choir Director - Director for long-standing, enthusiastic, 3-5 octave bell choir of vital, active U.C.C. church. 1 Weekly rehearsal and 1-2 x/month worship services. Job description and salary range available upon request. Contact Rev. Mary Lee-Clark, Second Congregational Church, 115 Hillside St., Bennington, VT 05201. 802-442-2559. mhlc@sover.net.

 

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Camp Agape Vermont - Spring 2014 Newsletter is now available.  Click here to read.

 

 

   

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Covenant Hills Christian Camp News - May Newsletter Click here to read.

 

Covenant Hills Needs Books - we are in need of some books for our camp library! Please help fill our shelves! And mail the books to camp: 246 Covenant Hills Road, Cabot, VT 05647! See our Amazon wish list.  Thanks.

 

 

 

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Peacemaker's Pulpit

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

 

 From the Memorial Day Sermon "Red Poppies" delivered at the Richmond Congregational Church UCC May 25, 2014

 

...As Christians, I think that honoring war puts us in a tough spot. It's pretty easy to justify retaliation, to justify fighting back and to justify fighting for something that is 'right'. It is also easy to recognize that we live in a world that is not always a safe or fair place. What's harder to do is to recognize our own culpability in the things that happen. While violence can never be justified, people who hate our country seldom hate us for no reason. Our actions as a nation are far from blameless. We do exploit, we do greedily consume more than our fair share. We are not always fair and just as a people.

Jesus was, after all, a pioneer of the non-violence movement. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, severely beaten, cut, bruised, mocked and cruelly and publically executed as an example to others who might buck authority. God in human form and he did not fight back. God in human form and he did not throw one punch. The Son of God did not save himself. He died, rather, on our behalf, that we might know better, that we might learn from his example and that we might actually love one another.

As he prepares his friends for his departure, Jesus promises them that they will not be left alone. Jesus promises us that he will send The Spirit of Truth, the Advocate, the Counselor, to guide us. And the Holy Spirit is that which guides our church to this day. And this is the reason why justifying or glorifying war should be difficult for Christians...

 

--Jonathan Farrell, College Street UCC, Burlington VT

 

Click here to read the entire sermon.

 

 

UCC News Updates   
  
~~~~~

 

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

 

 

Gospel of John & Preaching Conference & Conversation with Rev. Karoline Lewis.  June 17-19, 2014.  Location: First Parish United Church of Christ, East Derry, NH.  Click here  for more information/registration.

 

Pilgrimage for Earth: From Loss to Hope.  June 26 - 29, 2014.  Locations: various in NH & VT.  Sponsor: Episcopal Dioceses of Vermont & New Hampshire.  Click here for more information/registration.

Restoring SOUL to our 'War-torn' Soldiers Workshop.  July 8-10, 2014. Location: Whole Point Institute, 129 Harriman Hill Rd., Raymond, NH.  Sponsor: Soldier's Heart.  Click here for registration.

2014 Craigville Theological Colloquy - Creation as Theology & Ecology.  July 14-18, 2014.  Location: Craigville Retreat Center, Centerville, MA.  Click here for more information.

 

 Our Whole Lives (OWL) Training: Youth Adults and Adults.  August 1-3, 2014.  Location: First Church, UCC, Nashua, NH.  Registration Deadline: June 30, 2014.  Click here for more information/registration.

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

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

 

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Plan Ahead for Fall - Save the Dates!

 

Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) 2014 ConferenceSaturday September 27, 2014 Location: Grace Congregational United Church of Christ.  Rutland, VT.  More details to follow. 

3rd Annual Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future ConferenceNovember 6-7, 2014. Location: Grand Summit Hotel & Conference Center, Mount Snow Resort, Dover, VT.  Sponsor: Vermont Partnership for Fairness & Diversity.  Registration is now open Click here for more information/registration.    

  

 

Vermont Ecumenical Council (VEC) Conference on Drug Addiction.  Saturday November 15, 2014.  Location: Grace Congregational United Church of Christ, Rutland, VT.  More Information to Follow.

        

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webinarsUpcoming Webinars & Other Online Seminars

 

  • Online Course:  UCC History, Polity and Theology.  September 20 - December 20, 2014.  Sponsor: UCC House of Studies at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH.   Click here for more information/registration.     
  • 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, June 19. [Deadline to submit events:  June 10, Noon].    

 

Don't miss these events: 

 

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


Stewardship Message for June

Stewards of All Ages Strengthen the Church

 

When the day of Pentecost had come,  

they were all together in one place... - Acts 2:1

 

When the day of Pentecost had come, and all those Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents from afar were gathered, do you suppose there were any children present? And when all who heard the Spirit-filled Galileans speaking about God's deeds of power in a multitude of languages returned home, what do you suppose their children made of their excited accounts? Our children are always learning. As the song says, "teach your children well" and "feed them on your dreams."

 

Many UCC congregations receive the Strengthen the Church offering on Pentecost Sunday. When I proposed this to our church's Mission Committee, the youth members quizzed me about what the offering supports. When I mentioned planting new churches and renewing existing ones, one asked, "We received a grant once, didn't we?" Yes, we did! Then I offered that because of this offering, many more will hear the good news that God is still speaking. "Just like on Pentecost!" "We're a Stillspeaking church." They know their stuff! Finally, I talked about developing spiritual life in our youth and young adults through Regional and National Youth Events. There were smiles all around. It was "yes" to Strengthen the Church.

 

Each day, visions and dreams are created in the hearts of many in the United Church of Christ. Through your gifts to the Strengthen the Church offering, they can become a reality.


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: Matthew 28:16-20, where Jesus gives the Great Commission.

 

Here are some thoughts for the week:

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

Our task... is to live our personal communion with Christ

with such intensity as to make it contagious.

 

Paul Tournier

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

Someone has said...that the only bible

which millions of people read today

is the daily example of Christians --

your example and mine.

 

James E. Murray

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

To know whom you worship,

let me see you in your shop,

let me hear you in your trade,

let me know how you rent your houses,

how you get your money,

how you kept it

and how you spent it.

 

Theodore Parker

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

You are writing a Gospel,

A chapter each day,

By the deeds that you do,

And the words that you say.

Men read what you write,

If it's false or it's true.

Now what is the Gospel

According to you?

 

Anonymous

 

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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 06-11-2014