Church Vitality / Center for Progressive Renewal (CPR) Event
Craft Church: From Attraction to Integration
October 18, 2014
9:30 AM - 3:00 PM
United Church of Bethel
Vermont has the greatest number of craft breweries per capita. What do Beer and Church have in common? Come find out!
Presenter Rev. Michael Piazza will offer specific and practical insights into how to get people to come to your church, then get them to come back, then get them to stay and become the Body of Christ. Vintage churches can grow again if they learn to craft services, programs, and systems in a way that are congruent with the local settings values, mission, and vision.
The cost is only $25 per person, which includes lunch.
Only 120 slots are available, and this will sell out.
Please don't wait to register!
Follow this link to the information and registration page.
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Greetings Members & Friends,
Last week, as my family has done the last week of August almost every summer since I was 12, we came together to a small group of cottages in Ogunquit, Maine. Until two summers ago, we were four generations but my parents are no longer able to travel. Still, we were three generations. Each year my other siblings and their families have come as they are able from the many places around this country and the world where they have lived.
We gather and scatter through the days. This summer I came to understand that for me this week has the rhythm and ritual of a Sabbath. This vacating of normal place and routine with time and space to be apart is sacred time. Yes, it is precious time with the people I love most dearly. But is also time to just be. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning always begins with worship at the Wells Congregational United Church of Christ. Over the years I have seen pastors come and go. And this year I celebrate the arrival of their newly settled pastor who began just this August after a two year search. The excitement and anticipation was palpable!
I do not leave scripture nor prayer behind. But how different it is to meditate and contemplate while walking and sitting on the sandy beach or the Marginal Way - that rocky shoreline of Maine - while gazing out at the vastness of the ocean and the unending sweep of the sky - the edge of the earth so sublimely outlined at sunrise and sunset. And how very small and intricate are the zillion details of creation - including we who are the beloved children of the amazing awesome creator who brought it all into being.
And yet, as I thought upon the story of the beginnings as we travel through the lectionary readings of this summer - as I sat by the ocean - breathing the rhythm of the tides rolling in and out - It was haunting to hear the cries arising from the pages of scripture - the cries of women and children caught in cycles of abuse and rape, the cries of enmity between brothers, the cries of those enduring the injustice and oppression of power and greed, the cries of those victims of murder, genocide and war. It was haunting to hear those same cries still arising in our own time. To be reminded that even as God heard those cries in the beginning - God even now still hears every single voice crying out.
To be reminded that even as God was calling Abraham and Isaac and Jacob to turn from all of the other gods of the world to listen to the voice of the One who called them by name - who promised them a future and a hope - who made a way when there was no way through the leadership of Moses - this God invited each one to also hear the cries God was hearing and to work with God to turn those cries into new beginnings.
When God asks us to remember the Sabbath and keep is holy God invites us to this coming apart from the world. It gives us the time to remember and give thanksgiving that God is still calling us to turn from all the other gods of the world to listen to the One who calls us by name - who still promises those whom God has created a future and a hope - who yearns to make a way toward justice and peace - love and mercy - who invites us to hear the cries God hears and to work with God to turn those cries into new beginnings.
To those to whom much is given, much is required. Sitting on that beach I am not the victim of domestic violence, I am not caught in the clutches of ISIS, I am not in exile in some make-shift refugee camp, I am not homeless and hungry - but I am a part of the Body of Christ on earth - called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ - and a builder of the Kingdom of God where I live and with those I am with. It is in the coming apart that I am renewed in my own hopefulness that God is still God. It is in the coming apart that I am renewed in my own energy to return to my normal place and routine with expectation and anticipation that together in the Church of Jesus Christ, in the United Church of Christ, in the Vermont Conference and each one of our congregations -we can help others discover that there is a different and better way to live together upon this amazing earth.
Rev. Pam Lucas
Associate Conference Minister
for Search and Call and Small Church Ministry
| Conference News|
Conference Ministers Schedules
~Lynn Bujnak - Saturday, September 6, Strategic Investment in Sacred Places (SISP) training, Good Shepard Episcopal Church, Barre / Sunday, September 7, worship, Barre Congregational Church / September 8-10. Council of Conference Ministers (CCM) Cabinet, Cleveland.
~Pam Lucas - Sunday, September 7, leading worship at the Brandon Congregational Church
~Jim Thomas - Sunday, September 7, United Church of Northfield, preaching and meeting with stewardship committee.
Contacting the Conference Office
Please note that although Lynn Thomas and Sybil McShane no longer work in the Conference office, their email addresses are still active, and you should continue to use them as you did previously. Once new staff are on board, we will publish those addresses along with a description of which staff members are responsible for which areas of ministry.
Church World Service Kit Drop-off
The Conference Office in Randolph will accept Church World Service School Kits during the next week and will make arrangements for transporting them to a Church World Service facility. They need to be boxed as they would be for shipment and delivered to the office between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM Tuesday through Friday. Click here for information on packing the school kits for shipment.
Please Hold in Your Prayers...
... the Dummerston Congregatoinal Church and pastor, Susanna Griefen. There was a fire in their sanctuary on Monday night. Susanna writes: "Better than it could have been by far! There was a fire in the sanctuary tonight. I am just now home [2:12 AM, Sept. 2]. Amazingly, someone driving by saw the Reredos (curtain) burning on the front wall and ran in and put it out with a fire extinguisher. Fire trucks responded quickly and carefully, there is almost no water damage... The firemen there thought it started in an unused electric plug on the chancel organ side. We will almost surely have to have church downstairs, so maybe we'll plan a service of thanksgiving and communion that involves all of us. It is a small miracle that the whole church didn't burn. Thanks be to God."
Memorial Service Scheduled
A memorial service for Rev. Mark Follansbee will be on Saturday, September 13 at 11 a.m. at the College Street Congregational Church in Burlington.
"What Is Deeper Than the Grave?: Loving Our Deepest Roots"
September 22-24, 2014
Bishop Booth Conference Center, 20 Rock Point Circle, Burlington, VT
Most pastors are ministering to aging congregations. How do we do this work well? During this time together, we will explore issues of dying and death; loss of memory and dementia; diminishing energy, physical ability, and presence among the oldest members of our congregations; and our personal emotions around our aging and inevitable death. The Gospel tells us that aging and dying are at the foundation of the Good News of life and resurrection that we strive to preach. How do we preach and live this Good News in a way that helps us and our congregations to discover "What is Deeper than the Grave"?
The Convocation Planning Team is pleased to welcome the Rev. Dr. Kathleen Rusnak - Kathleen is an ordained Lutheran pastor with a doctorate in Psychology and Religion. She has been the pastor of three Lutheran congregations, a hospice chaplain in two hospices, the director of spiritual care and bereavement at The Connecticut Hospice (the first hospice in the United States).
Registration is now open.
Registration Deadline: September 9, 2014
Click here for the brochure/registration form.
Prison Justice Committee News
The Committee would like to call attention to a recent Christian Century article by Rev. Martin Copenhaver. It is entitled: Do you see this prisoner? Meeting with Sing Sing seminarians. He writes:
"One day I stood with my friend Lillian Daniel in front of the enormous front door of a big house in a suburb of New York. In some ways it looks like a gracious manor house that has seen better days. From where it is perched, there is a privileged view of the majestic Hudson River, the same river that has inspired so many artists and once drew the Roosevelts, Vanderbilts, and other famous families to build grand mansions on its banks.
Finally, someone dressed in a uniform opened the door and summoned us inside. There in the entranceway, we were asked to sign a book-something like an enormous guest book, with yellowed pages that must have gone back years.
We showed our IDs, were frisked, and walked through the metal detector. Suddenly a woman behind a large desk barked: "Wait! I told you to wait. Pay attention! You are not listening to me. Do it again." All I could think to say was, "Yes, ma'am." I didn't want to do anything to provoke her further.
I was learning that not only is it difficult to get out of Sing Sing prison; it's difficult to get in as well..."
Click here to read the complete article.
| We're Hiring|
| As you probably know, in the past month we lost two critical staff members. The transition allowed us to reimagine how the duties and responsibilities needed might be done in different ways. Today, we announce that we are hiring! Two positions to replace two positions, but with adjusted responsibilities. Here they are:|
ADMINISTRATOR AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR - part time - for Vermont Conference UCC in Randolph. Proficiency in Office Suite and website maintenance required. Quickbooks knowledge a plus. Duties include desktop publishing, receptionist, editor of email newsletters, receiving contributions. For additional information and application email: THOMASJ@VTCUCC.ORG. No walk ins or phone calls please. Application deadline September 1 2014. EOE.
MINISTRIES COORDINATOR - part time - for Vermont Conference UCC in Randolph. Proficiency in Office Suite required. Duties include liaison for churches in pastoral search process, pastors seeking churches, and admin support for ministry school. Position requires organizational skills, confidentiality, and ability to work independently. For additional information and application email: THOMASJ@VTCUCC.ORG. No walk ins or phone calls please. Application deadline September 1 2014. EOE.
Email Jim for application and position description. Please share and repost this as widely as you can. Thanks!!
● Fall Association Meetings. Click here for information available to date.
● Champlain Association. Safe Church Roundtable Discussion. October 9, 2014. 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM. Location: Malletts Bay Congregational Church UCC, Colchester, VT. Click here for more information.
|Items of Interest|
What Are You Giving This Year? - Choose to give hope. Christmas may seem far away, but it is never too early to plan an Alternative Gift Fair for your congregation or organization. Alternative Gift Fairs are easy, personal, and fun ways to bring communities together and offer shoppers the opportunity to give gifts with real meaning.
Click here for more information on organizing an Alternative Gift Fair and including CWS Best Gifts. And thank you for giving the gift of hope this year!
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A Special Invitation - Celebrating Rev. Adrianne Carr - A special invitation to the clergy, staff, church members and friends of UCC churches throughout the Vermont Conference UCC - You are cordially invited to the retirement celebration for Reverend Adrianne Carr, Associate Minister of the First Congregational Church of Burlington, Vermont.
Please join us on Saturday, September 27, 2014 1:00 to 4:00pm for hors d'oeuvres, music, roasts and toasts! and Sunday, September 28 at 10:00am when Rev. Carr will lead us in a celebratory worship service that will include special guests and music; vows of release from ministry, and recognition of Reverend Carr's years of dedicated service at First Congregational Church.
For more information or to RSVP please contact us at the Church Office 802.862.5010 email@example.com. Click here for more information.
UCC Disaster Ministries CWS School Kit Matching Grant Project - Following domestic and international disasters the need to distribute specific material aid is often crucial to the recovery process. UCC Disaster Ministries, Conferences and congregations support these efforts by pre-assembling various types of Church World Service kits that are stored and can be shipped at a moment's notice. UCC Disaster Ministries was recently notified that stock supplies of CWS School kits were very low due in part to the ongoing situation in Syria. In an effort to support UCC congregations in restocking these essential kits, UCC Disaster Ministries is offering matching grants totaling up to $50,000 for congregations assembling CWS School Kits. Grants will be awarded at $250/congregation on a first come first serve basis. Congregations are encouraged to engage their local community, businesses, friends and coworkers and to work collaboratively with other nearby congregations in an effort to pull resources and maximize purchasing power.
There are still grants available for congregations interested in assembling CWS school kits. To date we have 56 congregations participating that have pledged nearly 3,000 kits. There are still 144 Grants available. Click here for guidelines, application and more information.
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Back Bay Mission Seeks Executive Director - As you may know, in July, Back Bay Mission hired a new executive director who had to resign for personal reasons shortly thereafter. This means that we are restarting the search for a settled executive. Back Bay Mission, a community ministry of the United Church of Christ in Biloxi, Mississippi, is seeking an Executive Director. For more than 90 years, the Mission has been a leader in service to the poor and marginalized of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in social justice education and advocacy in the United Church of Christ, and in volunteer experiences for individuals and congregations. The Executive Director will serve as a highly visible spokesperson for the Mission and oversee the management and financial accountability of the organization and its staff. Interested candidates should review the complete job description on the Mission's website - thebackbaymission.org - or in the United Church of Christ's Ministry Opportunity listings. All applications are due by September 19, 2014.
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| Peacemaker's Pulpit |
A Monthly Message from the Department of Mission's Just Peace Advocates
"O God, give peace among nations, we pray."
The International Day of Peace will be September 21. This year, the Day happens to be a Sunday, and during their usual time together, some churches may want to identify themselves with people around the world who also hold "ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples."
The International Day of Peace was established by the United Nations in 1961 as a day of non-violence and cease-fire.
Resources for peace education and enhanced public awareness are available on the UN's websites: http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/ and http://www.un.org/Pubs/CyberSchoolBus/peace/home.asp. There's a poster on this year's theme, "The Right of Peoples to Peace," since this is the 30th anniversary of the declaration by the UN General Assembly on the Rights of People to Peace. There are four lesson units, "ecological thinking and respect for life," for ages 8-12; "tolerance and respect for dignity and identity," for ages 11-16; "active nonviolence," for ages 12+; "leadership and global citizenship," for ages 14+. There are documents from the UN, records of past observances, a message from the Secretary-General, and other resources.
Our denomination offers resources at http://globalministries.org/resources/special-days/peacemaking/international-day-of-peace.html, and http://www.ucc.org/justice/ejcp/ef/prayers.html. The UCC also identifies September 21-27 as "World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel" and refers UCC people to http://pief.oikoumene.org/en/world-week-for-peace/world-week-for-peace-in-palestine-israel.
"Vermont Sings for Peace," with several Vermont choral groups, will probably pack the First Congregational Church in Burlington at 4 P.M. on September 21. Churches can encourage people to attend. Parking is free in the garage across South Winooski Avenue.
September 21, Vermont UCC churches may choose to include a peace hymn in their worship, such as:
Through the thick chaos your reign is still hastening:
you will give peace in your time, we pray. (#577 in NCH)
--David Brown, Just Peace Advocate
|Upcoming Events, Webinars, Online Seminars |
Don't Forget the Following Events!
Vermont Interfaith Action (VIA) Pride Interfaith Service. September 9, 2014. 5:30 PM. Location: Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, 188 N. Prospect Street, Burlington, VT, Click here for more information.
| |250th Anniversary Celebration. September 14, 2014. 10:00 AM. Location: First Congegational Church, 4915 Main St. S, Newbury Village, VT. Click here for more information.
Peoples Climate March, September 21, New York City. Click here for more information about the rally: http://peoplesclimate.org/march.
Buses are being organized to leave from all around Vermont. For more information about buses from your part of the state, click here: Saturday buses / Sunday buses.
For more information about how you and your church can get involved, or to coordinate plans with others interested from your area through the Dept. of Mission Environmental Committee, please contact: Fred Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boundary Awareness Trainings in New England - click here for a listing.
| ||3rd Annual Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future Conference. November 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. |
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Upcoming Webinars & Other Online Seminars
- Online Course: Healthy Boundaries for Ministry 101 An Online Introductory Training for Spiritual Teachers. September 16, 2014 - October 17, 2014. Sponsor: FaithTrust Institute. Click here for more information/registration.
- Online Course: Move Beyond - 21st Century Models of Effective Youth Ministry - September 23 - November 4, 2014. Sponsor: Center for Progressive Renewal. Click here for more information/registration.
- 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
For 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, September 4. [Deadline to submit events: September 4, Noon].
Don't miss these events:
| Stewardship Message for September|
Stewards of Peace and Justice: Restoring God's Intended Shalom
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8b
"If you want peace, work for justice." With those words, Pope Paul VI stirred the imaginations of his generation. In its 1985 Just Peace Church Pronouncement, the General Synod defined "just peace" as the interrelation of friendship, justice, and common security from violence. The pronouncement calls the church to a vision of shalom rooted in peace with justice.
United Theological Seminary's Dean Richard D. Weis asks, "What is shalom? Typically we think of peace. But it also includes prosperity, welfare, health, well-being. The best single word is wholeness. To have shalom, persons will have health, dignity, self-respect, constructive human relationships, and resources to be productive, contributing members of the community who achieve a basic level of economic security. What can have shalom? ...Individuals, relationships, families, communities, nations, the creation. Shalom is measured by what happens to each and every member of society, especially those without power."
Many UCC congregations are preparing to give to the Neighbors in Need special mission offering on October 5, World Communion Sunday. This offering helps build a more just, compassionate, peaceful world - to restore God's intended shalom.
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 18:15-20, where Jesus says, "If another member of the church (literally "brother" or "sister") sins against you" -- and then prescribes a three-point remedy.
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People who fight fire with fire
usually end up with ashes.
- Abigail Van Buren
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The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly;
it is dearness only that gives everything its value.
I love the person who can smile in trouble,
who can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection.
'Tis the business of little minds to shrink;
but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct,
will pursue his principles unto death.
- Thomas Paine
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Nothing dies harder
than a theological conflict.
- Ronald A. Knox
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When you shoot an arrow of truth,
dip its point in honey.
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