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									...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012                       1

                     Celebrate                                                                                     fl o r i d a
                              fl o r i d a c o n f e r e n c e United Church of Christ
                                                                                                                           December 2011- January 2012

                                                   Job Well Done,
                                                   Good and Faithful Servants!
                                                             pon the conclusion of the ambitious effort known as Mission:1 – which united UCC
                                                             congregations throughout the United States in covenant unlike just about anything we’ve
                                                             previously experienced – we congratulate and thank all the Florida UCC congregations
                                                   which participated in this unique outpouring of “oneness.”
                                                        As of November 30th, the tally board figures for the national Mission:1 goals were as follows:

                                                           Items of healthy food donated... 1,450,034
                                                                                                               Goal of 1 MIllIon exceeded!
                                                           letters mailed to congress... 37,511
                                                                                                               Goal of 11,111 exceeded!
                                                           Money donated to neighbors in need hunger-related ministries... $121,260
                                                                                                                     Goal of $111,111 exceeded!
                                                           Money donated to east africa famine relief... $115,070
                                                                                                               Goal of $111,111 exceeded!
                                                                    To check on the latest tally board figures, go to

                                                           The stories that follow will give you an idea of the breadth and creativity of our Florida
                                                        churches in stepping forward in this exceptional effort. And our thanks to the national church
                                                        for giving us the opportunity to demonstrate “religion with relevance” in such a meaningful
                                                        way, directly impacting our own communities as well as reaching out to our brothers and
                                                        sisters abroad.
                                                            Pilgrims’ UCC/Fruitland Park delivered over 200 pounds of food to the Leesburg Food
                                                        Bank and the church collected $370 in cash contributions which was divided between the food
                                                        bank and Neighbors in Need. This was in addition to the $615 and 800 pounds of food already
                                                        donated to the food bank.
                                                           Christ Congregational Church/Miami
                                                        (see photo right) exceeded its financial goal
                                                        and came close to other goals for Mission:1.
                                                        Midway through the 11 days of Mission:1 the
                                                        sanctuary of the church was filled with bags of
                                                        rice and beans, cans of meat, tuna, vegetables,
                                                        jars of peanut butter, jelly and much, much
                                                        more. All total, the congregation donated 770
                                                        pounds of food (or 819 items for the UCC tote

Christmas Blessings                                     board), which was delivered to the Feeding
                                                        South Florida food bank. Church members were
                                                        extremely generous with financial gifts for the
                                                        Neighbors in Need/East Africa offerings, giving
          WHaT’S InSIDe
  Mission:1 ..................................... 2-4        thanksgiving .................................. 8      Sabbaticals ............................. 16-19
  Social Media bootcamp .................. 4                 60+ Ministry; long term Care Seminar ...... 9          Calendar ....................................... 20
  Vantage Point ............................... 5            across Florida.......................... 10-12         Youth Ministry ............................... 21
  disaster response & recovery..... 6                        UCC Women ........................... 12-13            inanda Seminary .......................... 22
  Sanibel art exhibits......................... 7            lGbt Update........................... 14-15           Moderator’s report: Chili Cookoff 23
  Music openings .............................. 7            transitions .................................... 15    Christmas Gift ideas ..................... 24
2 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................
                                                                             their penny collection to add to the donation.
                                                                                 Faith UCC/Dunedin raised $1,019 for Neighbors in Need and
                                                                             collected 451 food items for RCS in Clearwater.
  The United Church of Christ in Florida                                         Boynton Beach Congregational Church’s Mission and Outreach
                                                                             Board was faced with
a total of $3,756 to be divided evenly between the two appeals. In           dual challenges: The
addition, a total of 68 letters were written by members to the two           local food pantry
U.S. Senators and area Representatives, appealing to them to reform          (Boynton Beach
U.S. foreign aid to more directly benefit hungry people.                     Community Caring
   Pensacola Beach Community Church saw its Mission:1 ef-                    Center) needed food
forts reported in the November 13th edition of the Pensacola News            items for its annual
Journal. The newspaper shared how the church, “with the help of              Thanksgiving Cor-
lots of folks in the community,” gathered 14 tons of food, thereby           nucopia to provide
exceeding their goal of 11 tons. The food and donated money would            200 Thanksgiving
be going to several local food banks and outreach organizations.             meals to the needy
   Hope UCC/Rockledge participated in Mission:1 by completing                and the Florida UCC
an 11-week mission to feed the hungry. The goal was to collect               launched the Mis-
1,111 items of food before 11.11.11. Each week the congregation              sion:1 drive during
brought in a particular food item, such as peanut butter, pasta and          the same period. The
canned foods. On November 18th the food was donated to the Central           campaign end dates
Brevard Sharing Center, with a focus especially on items for Thanks-         were 11/19/11 and
giving baskets for the working poor. HOPE children contributed               11/11/11, respective-
                                                                             ly. In response to both
                                                                             drives, the Mission
                                                                             and Outreach Board
                                                                             substituted boxes of
                                                                             turkey stuffing for
                                                                             cereal and installed
                                                                             a four by eight foot
                                                                             wall in the narthex
                                                                             with the exhorta-
                                                                             tion “Let’s Fill This
                                                                             Wall!” To facilitate Pastor Rev. Georgia Hillesland is
                                                                             donations, boxes of congratulated by Regional Conference
                                                                             turkey stuffing were Minister Rev. Bill Koch
                                               Hope UCC/                     purchased in advance and made available in the Narthex to donate
                                                                             at $1 per box. In two Sundays, the congregation donated enough to
                                                                             provide 120 boxes on the “Great Wall of Stuffing.” As the goal was
                                                                             111 boxes, by 11.11.11, Mission:1 ACCOMPLISHED!
                                                                                 Faith Family Community Church/Tampa (Brandon) invited
                             Celebrate                                       its congregants to participate in the Mission:1 campaign, and they
                                                                             gathered over 300 food items to stock the local food pantry, raised
                                FlorIDa                                      approximately $152 for Neighbors in Need fund and wrote over 28
                                                                             letters to Congress.
                                   Published by

                 fl o r i d a c o n f e r e n c e
              United Church of Christ
                  924 Magnolia Ave., Suite 250,
                       Orlando, FL 32803
                 (407) 835-7501 / (800) 432-8311

              Conference Minister Rev. Kent Siladi
    Editor: Rick Carson Associate Editor: Tom Mitchell
                  Graphic Design /Layout
           Sharon Bond /
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   3

  The United Church of Christ in Florida
   Emmanuel UCC/Sebring set a goal to write 111 letters, raise
$111 for Neighbors in Need and donate 1,111 food items. They
exceeded all goals by writing 116 letters, raising $535 and donat-
ing 1,196 food items. The congregation is in the beginning stages
of hosting a similar style food drive for 2012.
   Gulf Coast Youth raised over $2,000 for Mission:1. See Youth
Ministry section for more info.
   New Hope UCC/Deland has a small membership -- about 15 – so the
congregation decided to put its focus on the local Neighborhood Center,
which is a food pantry and much more. The Center was asked what the
11 most needed foods are and the church set its goal at 111 items and
met it. Almost everybody brought one of each, just for the fun of it, and
the giving was blessed each week. The church found it did wonders for
church unity -- all getting behind the same goal – and they also set a
goal of $111 to add to its gift to the Neighborhood Center. A sidebar is
the good relationship it is establishing with the Neighborhood Center.
   Trinity UCC/St. Petersburg began collecting food items for
                                               the Good Samaritan/               Pass-a-Grille Beach Community UCC/St. Pete Beach chal-
                                               Pinellas Park Commu-           lenged its members to take their year-round food donations up a
                                               nity Food Cupboard, its        notch during Mission:1. A U-Haul trailer was rented and members
                                               sister UCC congregation        dropped off food at the church or at a nearby condo and tennis
                                               several miles distant.         club complex, where volunteers worked for two days. Overall
                                               The Mission:1 collection       more than 1,200 food items were collected. Youth at the church
                                               more than doubled Trin-        also took part in a regional UCC youth challenge to collect $11
                                                ity’s initial goal. Trinity   donations for the campaign. Almost two thousand dollars was
                                                members and friends           raised through their efforts.
                                                decided to keep this mis-        UCC at the Lighthouse/Naples had 25 of its members join with
                                                sion activity going even      Naples UCC to pack almost 112,000 meals exceeding the goal of
after the end of the Mission:1 effort due to the increasing need in           111,111 for Mission:1. Lighthouse had people participating from
the community, especially among families.                                     age four to over 90 years old.
   Miami Lakes Congregational Church had a Thanksgiving-                        Sanibel Congregational Church pitched in with more than 630
oriented Mission:1 effort; see “Thanksgiving” in this issue.                  food items for the FISH and Harlem Heights food pantries, wrote
   Port Orange UCC donated 854 items -- way over its goal of                  25 letters to Congress and donated or reported donating at least an
320. Add to that a whole lot of jars of peanut butter for Crop Walk           additional $4,000 to Neighbors in Need food-related ministries and
along with $150 in cash.                                                      East Africa famine relief.

    T    he Church of the Open Door Congregational/Miami
         -- where the motto is “An oasis of resources in a desert
 of need” -- has been graciously practicing the fundamentals of
                                                                              by the preparation of 111 adult gift bags of toiletries and 40
                                                                              children’s gift bags of special treats, donated by the members
                                                                              of the church.
 Mission:1 for decades, per Pastor Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis.                   The gift bags were transported to the center and distributed to the
 He confides, “Mission:1 has been an inspiration to me and the                residents. During the visit to the shelter, the adults were provided
 church to increase and                                                                                                  with a “spa day,” consist-
 continue our efforts in                                                                                                 ing of mini-manicures,
 charity and love because                                                                                                facials, foot massages,
 we feel the support and the                                                                                             and receptive ears for
 whole UCC denomination                                                                                                  residents to simply vent
 standing with us.”                                                                                                      their concerns. The chil-
    As participants in Mis-                                                                                              dren were treated to an ar-
 sion:1, Church of the Open                                                                                              ray of games, poems, and
 Door chose a service proj-                                                                                              storytelling. It was hard
 ect at a local residential                                                                                              to determine who had
 shelter for homeless wom-                                                                                               the most fun during the
 en and children. Members                                                                                                visit as there was joy and
 and friends met at the                                                                                                  laughter all over the place.
 church and had a powerful                                                                                               The collective sentiment
 prayer service, followed                                                                                                was, “Encore!”
4 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................

  The United Church of Christ in Florida

                                                                            Southwest Florida region. In order to house all the volunteers and
                                                                            supplies, set-up for the event was in two different buildings. There
                                                                            were about 31 tables at the NUCC campus that held up the packag-
   Naples UCC packaged 111,111 fortified packages of macaroni               ing supplies. Volunteers would put their hair nets on and begin to
and cheese with help from Meals of Hope. With over 300 volunteers,          fill, seal, box and repeat until every piece of macaroni was in a bag.
the meals were packed and ready to be loaded within two hours.              NUCC also draped a giant, blue banner in front of the sanctuary,
After the packages were taken to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, they           large enough for passersby to see and begin to wonder how they can
were then divided among 170 food-assisting agencies throughout the          help those who go hungry day to day.

    Jensen Beach Community Church was seeing first-hand how                     A second lady stopped by and asked for food. She was told about
 the economic downturn was creating hardship for many of the                 a food pantry located in the neighborhood. She replied that the lo-
 families who live in the area. Two communities of homeless live             cal food pantry would only help you if you could prove residency
 under the nearby causeway.                                                  for the last three months, and she further explained that she was
    During the third week of August, four families stopped by the            living out of her car and so she could not prove that she was living
 church office to ask for assistance. The first family had a young           in the county.
 mother who limped due to a disability with her hip or knee. She                Two other families stopped by the church office that same week
 brought with her two children: a daughter eight years old and a son         asking for food. The following Sunday while preaching, Pastor
 six years old, who suffered from severe autism (he wore pull-ups).          Dave shared with the congregation the experiences of the past
 The mother asked when the Sunday morning worship service and                week. He challenged the congregation to answer “a call to commit-
 Sunday School were held. During the conversation, she asked for             ment” -- a call to commitment to express Christ’s love to the poor
 assistance with her electric bill. Realizing that she probably had          and marginalized. He asked them to form a local food pantry in
 other needs as well, Pastor Rev. Dr. Dave Schnepf asked her when            Fellowship Hall. The members of the congregation responded with
 was the last time her family had eaten; she responded, “Three days          a commitment offering food and money to start this new outreach
 ago.” In a strange and mysterious way, God spoke to Pastor Dave             named the Shepherd’s Pantry. It will offer food to anyone who is
 and convinced him in his heart that something had to be done to             hungry, regardless. Its goal is to serve 111 families in the next year
 meet this need.                                                             as part of JBCC’s commitment to Mission:1.

Social media bootcamp: ‘Ten Shun!!                                             Rev. Knight holds a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School
   Are you interested in learning about or enhancing ways of using          of Theology and currently serves as the pastor of an online congrega-
social media to help you share the message of God’s love and grace?         tion that has been gathering for nearly four years in the cyber-world of
If so you are encouraged to register for the Social Media Bootcamp          Second Life. She is an are active members of Kirkwood UCC in Atlanta.
being offered on December 5th at The Community Church of Vero                  For more information about and to pre-register for this experi-
Beach. This event is being sponsored by the Florida Conference in           ence that she promises “will change your ministry,” click on the
partnership with the Center for Progressive Renewal and will be             link below or go to the Florida Conference website at www.uccfla.
led by Rev. Kimberly Knight.                                                org. Registration is limited so pre-register NOW. Each participant is
   Social networking is not a trend -- and your church needs to get         asked to bring a laptop. Onsite check in will begin at 9am with the
ahead of the curve! Learn how to use social networking tools like           workshop beginning promptly at 10am. Feel free to contact Regional
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MeetUp and others to extend the reach          Conference minister Rev. Dr. Raymond Hargrove (386/761-3092;
of your church on the web. In this intensive, we will show you how if you have questions. Don’t miss this!!
to: use Facebook to supplement your church website; set up pages               Here is the link to the registration page: http://progressiverenewal.
and groups on Facebook; use Twitter to create community “buzz”;             org/register-now2/icalrepeat.detail/2011/12/05/121/71/social-media-
Develop a social networking campaign for your church                        bootcamp-florida
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   5

byRev. Kent Siladi
ConfeRenCe MiniSteR

         ake a deep breath. The hectic pace of the holiday season is upon us. It starts with the Thanksgiving holiday and it
         ends with the season of Epiphany. We gather together to ask for God’s blessings, and we finish the season with a
         star appearing in the East and a reminder that Jesus has come for the entire world.
  Some of us love this time of year and others of us dread it. For me this time of year brings up memories of previous holi-
days, and it is hard not to get tangled up in those memories. We have a yearning to be home during this time – the place where
we feel safe and secure and surrounded by those we love. It’s not always a “Hallmark moment,” but this yearning runs deep
and wide for many of us.
  At this time of year a single word or phrase such as these can conjure up emotions and feelings...

                                                                            C   h ristm

   One of the important thing about churches is that through our communi-
ties of faith we give shape and meaning to people’s lives.
   This Advent/Epiphany season is a time when the traditions of the years
                                                                                                     Stained Glass Windows
help us connect with one another and to bring a message of hope and peace                              of the Florida ucc
to the world in which we live. We have a season of preparation that reminds
us of the power of mindful waiting.
   We proclaim the amazing news that God comes to us as a vulnerable baby
who grows up to change the world like no one else has.
   We remember the revelation that this Jesus is for all people. Deep down
we know -- that while the culture we inhabit promotes this time of year as a
time to embrace consumerism -- that the real message of this season is about
transformation…changed lives which in turn work to change the world.
   + My prayer for our Conference is that during this time of year we are able
to touch the life of someone who is yearning to experience God’s love in Christ.
   + My prayer for our Conference is that we might overflow with joy at the
reminder that God has come to us as Immanuel.
   + My prayer for our Conference is that we might work for peace and justice
and that we might bear hope in a world torn asunder by violence and anxiety
about these days in which we live.
   + My prayer for our Conference is that we might deepen our witness to
proclaim that “Jesus didn’t reject anyone, neither do we.”
                                                                                               Stained glass window from Coral Gables
   + My prayer for our Conference is that we might share the Gospel in word                    Congregational United Church of Christ,
and deed in these hectic and wonder-filled days.
   God be with us in these days. Take a deep breath!
6 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................

                               D isaster r esponse & r ecovery
                                                                             facilities as resilient to the disaster-causing damages as possible.
                                                                                The Coordinating Groups will also work to establish cooperative
                                                                             working relationships with the county and interfaith disaster recovery
                                                                             organizations in the counties within their region. Efforts will be made to
                                                                             connect the UCC Disaster Ministry, both at the national setting and in the
                                                                             Florida Conference, to the county organizations so that our UCC efforts
                            Rev. dR. bill Wealand                            to assist disaster-affected families will happen as effectively as possible.
                            CooRdinatoR, diSaSteR ReSponSe & ReCoveRy          The Conference Disaster Ministry Coordinating Group will establish
                                                                             and maintain working relationships with Florida state government and
                                                                             non-government statewide disaster response organizations. It will also
new Disaster ministry                                                        update and maintain the Florida Conference Disaster Ministry plan.

Structure                                                                       Special events will be held in each region in March to introduce the
                                                                             new structure to the clergy, local church disaster ministry coordinators

             eeting on Saturday, November 12th, the members of the           and all others interested. The event for the Northeast Region will be
             Board of Directors of the Florida Conference voted to af-       held on March 7th, for the Gulf Coast Region on March 9th and for the
             firm a new Disaster Ministry structure which I proposed.        Southeast Region on March 12th. Details of these events and registration
                                                                             information will be available in a few weeks.
   The new structure will include three Regional Disaster Ministry
Coordinating Groups and one Conference Coordinating Group. Each                 Organizational meetings will also be held in March for the three new Re-
regional group will have ten members, five clergy and five local church      gional Disaster Ministry Coordinating Groups. The event for the Northeast
coordinators. These 30 members (ten for each region) are being selected      Region Disaster Ministry Coordinating Group will be held on March 7th-8th,
by the Regional Conference Ministers in collaboration with me.               for the Gulf Coast Region on March 9th-10th and for the Southeast Region on
                                                                             March 12th-13th. Details of these events will also be available in a few weeks.
   Each Regional Disaster Ministry Coordinating Group will work to
support and assist the congregations within their region to plan and            Additional information is available from me at Bwealand@uccfla.
prepare for future disasters and also to take steps to make their church     org or 352/406-4484.

missioners from Holly Hill Hit the road for Disaster clean-up
  R     ev. Steve Heath, Pastor of Union Congregational UCC/
        Holly Hill, and David Heald, a lay member from the church,
(see photo below) have overseen a statewide gathering of disaster
                                                                             Volusia Interfaiths/Agencies Networking in Disaster (VIND) also
                                                                             cooperated by contributing a number of leftover buckets, which had
                                                                             been previously donated by Lutheran Disaster Services in Florida
relief buckets full of essential supplies and personal hygiene kits          during the May floods of 2009.
for those on the ground cleaning up after weather-related disasters             Setting off on a five-day trip, Rev. Steve and Dave drove a truck
in the Northeast.                                                            with a cargo trailer and took these materials and picked up more as
   Assisting in assembling the buckets at Holly Hill were John               they drove around the state of Florida to participating UCC churches.
and Ramona Nutting, Ruth Kelsey and David Heald. The First                   The churches combined to provide 51 clean-up buckets (which are
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Daytona Beach and the              assembled at an approximate cost of $59 each, see below) and 180
                                                                             hygiene kits (approximately $12 each). The total value of these items
                                                                                         was over $5,000.
                                                                                            The pair then drove the materials to the Church World
                                                                                         Service distribution center in New Windsor, MD, for
                                                                                         delivery to areas hit by natural disasters. In addition to
                                                                                         the items collected, the effort and appeal prompted other
                                                                                         UCC churches in the Florida Conference to respond with
                                                                                         special monetary gifts for the cause to Church World
                                                                                         Service. The money collected totaled another $6,000.
                                                                                            Thanks to all the congregations and church members
                                                                                         who donated time, effort and items to this appeal.
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   7

 Sanibel church Features regular art exhibits

         tep into Fellowship Hall at Sanibel Congregational UCC
         and your eye will immediately light upon the beautiful
         works of art that grace the walls. Each month curator Betty
Weise, a member of the congregation’s Board of Deacons, arranges
for a new area artist to exhibit his or her work. Artists include mem-
bers of the congregation as well as artists from the Sanibel Captiva
Art League, the nearby Shell Point Retirement Community, Fort
Myers and beyond.
   Betty originally conceived of the idea over three years ago, and
it was greeted with genuine enthusiasm by the congregation. The
art displayed often features landscapes of Southwest Florida and
portraiture. Oils, acrylics and watercolors are frequently the media of
choice. Betty, who primarily paints in watercolors, notes that artists
are eager to participate in the rotating exhibits. “They are delighted
to be a part of it,” she said.
   Pat Baker, the artist for November, was typical of the artists
who exhibit at the church. Pat paints from subjects she loves and
finds challenging florals, still life, landscapes and watercolor. She,
like many island residents, splits her time between Sanibel and a
home “up north” where she maintains a studio in Michigan. She
has participated in a number of juried shows and studies with Ian
Roberts, a well-known Canadian landscape painter in Provence,
France, and by the shores of Georgian Bay,
Ontario, Canada. [You may visit her website
   The artists are free to price their own works
and, if they sell while on exhibit, the artists
donate 10% of the proceeds to the church.
   Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. John Danner
praises Betty for her efforts, saying “What
Betty does for us is amazing! Sometimes I
find myself just standing in Fellowship Hall
soaking in the beauty. It is a fine example of
our role as co-creators with the Holy One!”

 church by the Sea/bal Harbour Seeking a music Director and organist/Pianist
             church by the Sea curently has                                   team and be able to work with the church as a whole in discovering
        two positions that they are seeking to fill:                          ways to offer, through music, the timeless love of God to a new
                                                                              generation of people unaccustomed to church music.
 music Director                                                                  This position is part-time, 8–12 hours per week and salary is
    Candidates for Musical Director should be able to lead and in-            commensurate with experience.
 spire beauty – both in sound and within a choir and congregational
 community. The director must be open and creative to employing               organist/Pianist
 a variety of musical styles such as classical, contemporary, gospel             The church is also seeking an accomplished organist and ac-
 and folk. We have a proud musical reputation within the Miami                companist who can play both the organ and piano with a variety
 community and seek to build on that in new and dynamic ways                  of musical styles for our Sunday morning and special worship ser-
 including initiating a community choir, hosting concerts and de-             vices. We also are looking for someone who is creative and works
 veloping our budding children’s choirs.                                      cooperatively with the choir and the worship team.
    The Church by the Sea is also contemplating building a new                   This position is part-time, 8–12 hours per week and salary is
 church building, which would give the new Music Director the                 commensurate with experience.
 ability to help design the sanctuary space as well as choir practice         Please send bio and resume to:
 and youth music rooms. This is a special opportunity to leave a
 lasting legacy.
                                                                              rev. robert asinger at:
                                                                              Church by the Sea
    The successful candidate will have the ability to nurture and
                                                                              501 96th Street
 encourage music participation from the congregation, be able to
 balance a variety of musical preferences, build partnerships within          bal Harbour, Fl 33154
 the local community, have a professional but warm and supportive             305/866-0321;
 personality, be able to work well and collaboratively with a worship
8 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................

                                                         Giving Thanks

                                                                          Thanksgiving 2011
                                                                             M      any of our churches planned special events and
                                                                                    community outreach for the Thanksgiving holi-
                                                                          day. A number even tied their activities into the Mission:1
                                                                          project. Here is what took place in some of our congrega-
                                                                          tions in the weeks and days preceding Thanksgiving Day.

   One of the most anticipated activities during the Thanksgiving            experience in the United States. Along with a bounce house, the children
season at Church of the Open Door Congregational/Miami is its                played soccer while the adults socialized with one another as best they
annual Harvest Fest ministry where the primary focus has tradition-          could, in some combination of Spanish, English and Creole. A picnic
ally focused on feeding the homeless and elderly, providing complete         lunch was served for more than 100 people, which included volunteers
food bags and clothing for families in need. This year 162 persons           from Church World Services, the student Rotary Club from the Univer-
were fed in a formal setting in the church’s Fellowship Hall. Twenty         sity of Miami as well as from the congregation. Before leaving, each
Thanksgiving baskets were donated to needy families and 33 families          family was given a Thanksgiving basket, including a turkey, for their
received clothing. Monthly donations continue to be made to the local        own family Thanksgiving celebration.
food bank. Church of the Open Door has risen to the challenge in the
past few years as a “5 for 5 Church,” supporting Our Church’s Wider
Mission and OCWM’s four special mission offerings received annu-
                                                                                                    + + + + +
                                                                                A church family Thanksgiving Dinner was shared by members and
ally – One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthen the Church, Neighbors           friends of First Congregational Church/Orange City on Sunday,
in Need, and the Christmas Fund. Open Door’s special offering for            November 20th, following the worship service. The Deacons, serving as
Neighbors in Need is $669...and growing.                                     hosts for the dinner, provided turkey and ham. Participants completed
                                                                             the menu by sharing their own favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Church
                       + + + + +                                             members also filled ten boxes and three shopping bags with items for the
   First Congregational Church/Fort Lauderdale hosted an interfaith          Council on Aging of Volusia County to prepare holiday food baskets for
Thanksgiving service on the evening on November 23rd. Included among         seniors. A total basket costs approximately $15 and includes: a canned
the participating faith communities were two synagogues, a mosque            ham (non-refrigerated); canned green beans, peas, yams, cranberry sauce
and five churches. Church members also collected Thanksgiving meal           and gravy; instant mashed potatoes; sugar-free cookies; dessert cakes;
foods to feed 50 needy families.                                             instant tea and paper towels. The baskets are prepared for COA clients
                                                                             who are least likely to share a holiday meal with friends and family.
                         + + + + +
   For the Mission:1 effort, Miami Lakes Congregational Church                                      + + + + +
collaborated with Church World Services to host the 4th Annual Refugee          An interfaith service of Thanksgiving was offered Temple Shalom in
Family Thanksgiving event on the greens of the church grounds.               The Villages on November 17th in a joint effort with The UCC at The
                                                                             Villages, the Open Circle Church at The Villages MCC and the Rock
  For all of the 80+ people who participated — refugees from Cuba,           of Ages Lutheran Church. Everyone attending was invited to bring a
Haiti, Colombia and Venezuela — this was their first Thanksgiving            non-perishable food item to be donated to families in need.

                                                                                                      + + + + +
                                                                                At Trinity UCC/St. Petersburg, three multicultural congregations
                                                                             have begun partnering to live out a new vision of the “new Trinity” –
                                                                             “That they all may be one.” Each of the congregations maintains its
                                                                             own worship traditions but the congregations join together in fellow-
                                                                             ship, educational and mission activities. On Sunday, November 20th,
                                                                             the three congregations gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving meal
                                                                             of turkey and ham along with favorites from other cultural traditions.

                                                                                                    + + + + +
                                                                                For Thanksgiving, First Congregational Church/Winter Park
                                                                             observed the occasion with an “Eclectic Soul Service” the Saturday
                                                                             prior. At their “Around the Table” service, they brought foods to share
                                                                             and celebrated the connection between spirituality and art.
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012    9

                    60+ o lDer a Dult M inistry
                                                                                                              Faith learning event

                      byRev. linn poSSell
                      ConSultant, oldeR adult MiniStRy

   Tavares Union Congregational Church has a new vision, a new energy and a revived
spirit. They have decided to be the best “Act Two” ministry in the area.
  Why did they decide this? Because they are situated in the middle of retirement communities
and they decided that in order to be relevant and viable they needed to embrace their com-
munity and look for ways to offer the Extravagant Welcome of the United Church of Christ.
   Since creating their new vision, Interim Pastor Rev. Robert Roberts (below) and the
congregation have been hard at work looking for ways to reach out to and connect with their
community. They are looking at being the host site for the local congregate meal program
and organizing ministry around these meals. They are taking names of volunteers and making                  Long Term Care
lists of ideas about how they can better serve and engage the older adults who live in the sur-             Saturday, January 21st, 9am-3pm
rounding communities. A few weeks ago 50 congregants participated in an all-day workshop                   First Congregational UCC/Sarasota
to look at ways to make their vision a reality. Tavares Union is committed to “serving God all
the days of our life” and to continue to move forward with enthusiasm, while walking through
the new doors that God opens for their church.                                                              As we listen to the members and clergy
                                                                                                         in our churches, one of the concerns of the
  If your church would like to find ways to better serve and engage your 60+ members                     church member is long term care. Ques-
and friends, contact me at                                                         tions about when the time comes, how do
                                                                                                         we care and reach out to the ones we love?
                                                                                                         What choices do we have? What about
                                                                                                         the financial considerations? What are the
                                                                                                         differences in care, insurance, life deci-
                                                                                                         sions and also very important is how does
                                                                                                         one take care of the caretaker? These are
                                                                                                         just some of the topics we’ll try to cover
                                                                                                         in our short time together. However, it’s
                                                                                                         important to think about these today and
                                                                                                         make plans for our future. The seminar
                                                                                                         leaders will help guide us to better prepare
                                                                                                         for long term care.
                                                                                                            To register, go to, click
                                                                                                         on “Upcoming Events” and at the Long
                                                                                                         Term Care section is where the registration
                                                                                                         form may be downloaded.

                                    Possell book on alzheimer’s now available
                                       “When my mother was diagnosed with demen-               with joy. It is a future that enables us to celebrate
                                    tia in 2006, my life changed…for the better.”              a depth of relationship that will never end.
                                       It became richer, more complete and filled with                                          From Alzheimer’s:
                                    joy as I watched the triumph of my mother’s spirit.           A Beautiful Spirit Celebrated by Linn Possell
                                    Dementia may have affected her physically but it
                                    could not touch her beautiful spirit. What is eter-           Rev. Linn Possell, consultant to the Florida
                                    nal about our life is not our physical experience          Conference Older Adult Ministry, has published
                                    but our spiritual essence and therefore the depth          this book which has just recently come out. If
                                    of our relationship grew into something more than          you are interested in purchasing a copy of Linn’s
                                    I could ever have imagined.                                book and or would like her to offer a workshop
                                       Rev. Possell offers hope for families and their         at your church, please contact her at revpossell@
                                    loved ones of a future rich with meaning, and filled
10 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................
                                                   In “Across Florida” our intent is to share with you what is happening at our 100+
                                                   churches throughout the state. It is obvious from these entries that there is an excit-
                                                   ing vibrancy evident within our congregations. This energy is making a decisive
                                                   difference in the lives of congregation members and the communities in which they
                                                   are located while also touching the lives of strangers in far away places. Through

                                                   this sharing, you can learn about innovative ideas, creative outreach and stimulat-
                                                   ing ministry, some of which might be adapatable within your own congregation. See
                                                   something that catches your eye or brings a smile to your face? If an idea sounds
                                                   good and you’d like more information about what they’re doing, contact that church.

                                                     We’ve singled out a few of these with the following symbol                bright ideas that you
                                                   might want to let shine in your own church.

                             On November 20th, Port Orange UCC               (see photo, with Pastor Rev. Scott Elliott). The spirit is alive in all
                          invited Joe Coury to lead the congregation         creation!....Others churches recently conducting similar blessings-
                          through an introspective and informative           of-the-animals services include Good Samaritan Church/Pinel-
                          session about where POUCC wants to go              las Park, Church of the Palms/Delray Beach and Community
                          next as a church body. Close to 50 members         Congregational Church/New Port Richey.
                          participated in the consultation, and when            A health fair will be offered to the community at First United
                          asked to pick from three areas of focus            Church of Tampa on Sunday, December 4th. Speakers from vari-
                          “youth growth” was selected first, education       ous local health and wellness organizations are going to be on tap to
                          was second and missions (already a strong          provide a lot of free information. Also available will be free blood
                          area) was third. Joe Coury is a personal busi-     pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and HIV screenings.
                          ness coach, author and public speaker; his
  business ( is based in Port Orange and                On November 19th,
  works with businesses, civic organizations, churches, non-profits          inspirational singer
  and individuals to assist them in identifying their future direction.      Charlotte A. Martin
                                                                             performed a concert
     Church of the Isles/Indian Rocks Beach is hosting a spaghetti           at her church home,
  dinner benefit for Habitat for Humanity on Sunday, December 4th.           Riverside UCC/Jack-
  Following the dinner will be a holiday performance by the Largo            sonville, featuring mu-
  High School Madrigal Singers. All the food and entertainment is            sic from her newest
  being donated and the proceeds will go toward the Habitat home,            CD (her second) titled
  an ecumenical effort which includes a temple, synagogue and                “The Love of Angels.”
  Christian churches.                                                        She also debuted her
           The Community Church College at United Com-                       first Christmas song,
         munity Church/Sun City Center is very pleased to                    “The News is This
         have available for the community and surrounding                    Morning” (available at
  area an excellent array of speakers. This is a group composed     All pro-
  of men and women who are expert in their fields of exper-                  ceeds for this Christ-
  tise. The topics vary from estate planning, US history, the                mas release will be go-
  “art of mindfulness meditation,” health care reform, Eastern               ing directly to the church; Charlotte donates half the proceeds from her
  religions, China, metaphysics to memory -- just to name a few.             two albums to the church. For more, go to
  This has become an excellent resource for local clubs and groups.             To commemorate September 11th, Hope UCC/Rockledge held a
  The fees charged are varied and many are nominal or free. The              memorial service Iona/Celtic-style with congregants lighting indi-
  speakers, their topics, a brief bio and fees are all available on line     vidual candles in remembrance of the victims.
  at www.4life
                                                                                In today’s chaotic world, there is only one absolute certainty: “God’s
     Riviera UCC/Palm Bay held its third annual outdoor animal               presence is real.” So says the Spiritual Life Team at Cocoa Beach
                                                 blessing service on         Community Church, which gives people the opportunity to identify
                                                 Sunday, October 30th,                                     and share God’s presence in their lives
                                                 with about 100 people                                     and discover the power of shared God
                                                 and pets gathered to                                      experiences and prayer. Directed by Dr.
                                                 worship with a “yap-                                      Bobbie McKay -- UCC pastor, psycholo-
                                                 py” fellowship hour                                       gist, writer and researcher -- this program
                                                 following. One at-                                        now has four active spiritual life teams at
                                                 tendee had a very sick                                    CBCC plus two new teams waiting to get
                                                 dog who was given                                         started and connections to other teams
                                                 a few days to live.                                       in Florida, Illinois and New York. This
                                                 The woman drove                                           unique program, which is already tested
                                                 by, saw the sign and                                      and proved, seeks to help church leaders
                                                 brought her dog to be                                     transform their churches into a spiritual
                                                 blessed by the pastor
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   11
center and magnet for people seeking a spiritual life. It also seeks             An art exhibition to increase awareness of
to allow people to be both spiritual and religious and discover the           those who live with HIV/AIDS was held at
power of spiritual life in our congregational lives together. For more        Windermere Union Church on the evening
information about the Spiritual Life Team program at CBCC, contact            of November 30th, the eve of World AIDS
Dr. McKay at 847/728-0765.                                                    Day. “Through the Window: Insight into the
   Debbie Jackson and her Soup Angels were back again in November             Spirituality of AIDS,” featured the work of
at the UCC/New Smyrna Beach. This year they sold 120 quarts of                Lois Wilson, a UCC minister and professor
homemade soup (in 2010 they sold 100) – chili, vegetable chili, potato,       at Palmer Theological Seminary outside
chicken noodle, vegetable and vegetable beef – and at $8 a quart all          Philadelphia. Her collages of pictures tell
the proceeds – a net of $856 -- went to the church.                           stories full of hope and wisdom of people
                                                                              living with HIV and AIDS, stories she
   Sanibel Congregational UCC has announced that the Sanibel-                 heard during three years working with the
Captiva Shared Scholar for 2012 will be                                       HIV and AIDS community in Philadelphia.
the Rev. Dr. David Lowry. Dr. Lowry,                                          The church was introduced to this fascinat-
the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in                                      ing collection by church member Todd
Manhasset, NY, will speak at the church                                       LaFlame who found a spiritual home in the
on Monday, January 23rd, at 7:30pm. His                                       UCC when he was living in Pennsylvania
lecture, titled “Religious Tolerance in a                                     and HIV+ and met Rev. Wilson at a spiri-
Changing World Order,” will explore                                           tual retreat. If other churches would like to
the relationships between ethics, religion                                    exhibit the art work or want more informa-
and globalization. “The world is going                                        tion, Dr. Wilson may be contacted at 267/251-2491 or e-mailed at
through a period of prolonged and sub-                               The exhibit will be on display at WUC
stantial change,” noted Dr. Lowry. “This                                      until January 31st.
change is already bringing about the
diminution of the nation-state and the emergence of the market state.            After a months of preparation (including making homemade
This ‘remaking of the world order’ has economic, social, ethical and          noodles for their infamous chicken noodle soup), Emmanuel
religious implications.” Dr. Lowry writes and lectures extensively in         UCC/Sebring held its 21st Harvest Home Festival on November
the areas of human and indigenous rights and corporate social respon-         5th. Everyone from the congregation came together to sell quality
sibility. He has a doctorate in British history, three master’s degrees
and a bachelor’s degree in classical languages. The Shared Scholar
Program this year is sponsored by Bat Yam--the Temple of the Islands
(Reform), St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, the Christian
Science Church of Sanibel, Captiva’s non-denominational Chapel by
the Sea and the host congregation, Sanibel Congregational.
   Members of Community UCC/Lake Park continue their once-
a-month service of meals to the homeless at the St. George Mission
in Riviera Beach. In September they served 140 people and 100+ in
October…. Parishioners at Fort Myers Congregational Church
prepare and serve meals for the homeless at the Abundant Grace Fel-
lowship. In August they fed 35.
   Faith Family Community Church/Tampa (Brandon) just cel-
ebrated its second anniversary with a stunning concert in the church
given by Ray Boltz. Ray invited the Pastor, Rev. Dr. Kathy Rooke, to
the stage as he sang his famous “thank you” song. There was not a dry         handmade goods, delicious foods and holiday items and hold a
                                                   eye in the audience        silent auction, creating the most successful festival yet with over
                                                   as congregants filed       $6,300 raised.
                                                   to the stage to pay                                                    On December 13th The
                                                   their personal thank                                                UCC at The Villages --
                                                   yous the founding                                                   along with the Unitarian
                                                   pastor. FFCC, with                                                  Universalist Fellowship
                                                   its 50 members, is                                                  of Marion County – is
                                                   currently in its year                                               hosting a holiday music
                                                   of discernment to be-                                               program with Mindy Sim-
                                                   come affiliated with                                                mons, a consummate per-
                                                   the UCC. Vice Mod-                                                   former who has worked in
                                                   erator Joe Ebbing                                                    many professional venues
reports they are “optimistic” about their future.                                                                       including festival stages,
   The members and friends of First Congregational Church/Or-                                                           concert halls and houses
ange City are looking forward to the presentation of “Happy Birthday,                                                   of worship.
Jesus” by the children and the choir on December 18th. It will include           Thanks to Bill Valentine at Chapel on the Hill UCC/Seminole,
the song, “Crackers and Turkeys” by Ian White, a tradition brought to         more than 100 blankets were collected for the homeless who reside
the church by a family which has relocated from Northern Ireland              at the nearby Pinellas Hope shelter.
to Central Florida.
12 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................

                                                                                            Florida ucc Women
                                                                                           85th annual conference
                                                                                                       march 9-11, 2012
                                                                                      International Palms resort, cocoa beach, Fl
                                                                                                re: Generations
                                                                               Since my youth, God, you have taught
                                                                                 me, and to this day I declare your
                                                                                 marvelous deeds. Even when I am
                                                                                old and gray, do not forsake me, my
                                                                                God, till I declare your power to the
                                                                                                next generation, your
                                                                                                mighty acts to all who
                                                                                                     are to come.
   On November 6th, Faith UCC/Dunedin (formerly in Clearwater)                                          (Psalm 71: 17-18)
dedicated its new church.
   Trinity UCC/St. Petersburg has adopted a new vision statement.                                 Including a Beachfront
In keeping with the UCC vision, “That they may all be one,” Trinity                               Intergenerational Drum Circle
will host a faith based multicultural center were all are welcome and
accepted. Three congregations are partnering to live out this vision
of the “new Trinity.” Each of the congregations maintains its own
worship traditions but the congregations join together in fellowship,                  uPcomInG evenTS
educational and mission activities. On Sunday, November 20th, the
three congregations gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving meal of
turkey and ham along with favorites from other cultural traditions.                                       For all Women
                                                                                                           of the Florida

                                                                                                     March 9-11, 2012
                                                                               85th Annual Florida Women’s Conference, International Palms
                                                                               Resort & Conference Center, Cocoa Beach
                                                                                                regional annual meetings
                                                                                                       January 26, 2012
                                                                               Southwest Coast Region, St. Andrew UCC/Sarasota - Regional
                                                                               Rep Vera Roscoe, 941/643-3121
                                                                                                       January 28, 2012
                                                                               Central West Coast Region, Rainbow Promise UCC/Auburndale -
                      DIScuSSIon                                               RSVP Rev. Nancy Prout, 863/226-2290,; Regional
                                                                               Rep Eleanor Rouse, 727/541-4517,
                        GrouPS                                                                         February 4, 2012
                                                                               Miami-Dade/Monroe Counties Church of the Open Door
                                                                               Congregational/Miami - Regional Rep Patsy McDowell, 786/543-
 bookS                                                                         2075,
    An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor (Riviera UCC/                                       February 11, 2012
 Palm Bay)                                                                     Central East Coast Region Rivera UCC/Palm Bay - Regional Rep
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and The              Carol Robinson, 321/723-0915
 Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Church of                                        February 18, 2012
 the Isles/Indian Rocks Beach)                                                 Gold Coast Region Union Congregational Church/West Palm
                                                                               Beach - Regional Rep Carolyn McElroy, 561/967-5573
 ToPIcal                                                                                              February 25, 2012
    “A British Christmas: Dickens, Lewis and Carols” (Sanibel                  St. Johns Region Arlington Congregational Church/Jacksonville -
 Congregational Church)                                                        Regional Rep Donna Cooney, 386/244-4336
    The Book of Acts (UCC/New Smyrna Beach)
    The Book of Revelation; “World Religions” (Church of the                         For additional information: visit
 Isles/Indian Rocks Beach)                                                            Bunny Gruntler- 305/302-4305
    Introduction to the Bible (Faith UCC/Dunedin)
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   13

                                          F loriDa ucc W oMen
Florida ucc Women Travel to                                                   keynote speaker. Florida’s own Bert Perry (New Hope UCC/DeLand)
                                                                              spoke on “You Are What You Eat” and led a workshop on immigration.
blowing rock                                                                  Bible study and worship services were inspiring and informative. Judah
                                                                              Jones and Bill Englebreth added the musical piece for the gatherings
                                                                              and worship with additional entertainment provided by Glenn Bolick,
                                                                              a mountain storyteller and musician.
                                                                                 The Florida UCC Women were in charge of the silent auction,
                                                                              which brought in money to fund the next Southern Regional Meeting
                                                                              of UCC Women. With spirited bidding, over $800 was raised toward
                                                                              the October 2013 gathering which will be hosted by the Florida UCC
                                                                              Women in Live Oak.
                                                                                Twenty-four of the Floridians rode the Spirit Bus with fearless leader
                                                                              Colleen Hafner (Trinity UCC/St. Petersburg). The bus left from St.
                                                                              Petersburg and stopped in Port Orange to pick up riders from the east
                                                                              coast. Colleen challenged the group with puzzles and led everyone in
                                                                              song. Nights going and coming were spent at the Hampton Suites in Port
                                                                                                   Wentworth, GA (highly recommended!).
                                                                                                       Join the Florida UCC Women in Cocoa Beach
                                                                                                    for the 85th Annual Conference, March 9th-11th,
   On October 6th, 31 Florida UCC women (and                                                        at the International Palms Resort and Conference
two spouses!) made their way to Blowing Rock,                                                       Center. Look ahead to the next Southern Regional
NC, to participate in the 16th Southern Regional                                                    meeting of the UCC Women in Live Oak, October
Meeting of the United Church of Christ Women.                                                       18th-20th, 2013, at Camp Weed and Conference
The Southern Region includes VA, TN, NC, SC,                                                        Center. Check the website (
GA, FL, AL, MS, LA and TX and eight of the
ten states were represented.                                                                        Florida Participants in Southern
   The Blowing Rock Conference Center, a                                                            regional meeting of ucc Women
UCC facility, is sequestered high in the Smokey                                                      Rainbow Promise UCC/Auburndale: Nancy
Mountains, and it is particularly beautiful in early Fall. With awesome       Bassett, Nancy Prout
vistas, walking trails and a welcoming campus the contingent spent Fri-         Boynton Beach Congregational: Carol Lewis, Judi Pernas
day night to Sunday noon with old and new friends in “A Faith Inspired          New Hope UCC/Deland: Bert Perry
Look Toward Wellness.”                                                          Church of the Isles/Indian Rocks Beach: Valerie Courtney, Marilyn
                                                                              Scott, Hannah Strong, Marty Synnott
  Worship and speakers focused on the theme from different angles.              Sunset Congregational Church/Miami: Bunny and Tom Gruntler
Ms. Barbara Baylor, Minister of Health and Justice for the UCC, was the         Miami Shores Community Church: Rhea Tae-Tehrani, Delores Evans
                                                                                                 Orlando: Barbara Stanton, Diane Stanton
                                                                                                 Pass-a-Grille Beach Community UCC/St. Pete
                                                                                               Beach: Anne Ciriello, Shirley DeJong-Hyde, Judy
                                                                                               Highlands, Marty Johnson, Norma and Jay Johnson,
                                                                                               Barbara Smith, Carolyn Stowers
                                                                                                 Pilgrim UCC/Port Charlotte: Marion McWhirter
                                                                                                 Port Orange United Church of Christ: Jeanette
                                                                                                 Congregational UCC/Punta Gorda: Vera Roscoe
                                                                                                 Hope UCC/Rockledge: Dyanne Edds
                                                                                                 Trinity UCC/St. Petersburg: Colleen Hafner
                                                                                                 First Congregational UCC/Sarasota: Jean Simpson
                                                                                                 United Community Church/Sun City Center:
                                                                                               Mary Houston, Marlus Johns
                                                                                                 Union Congregational Church/West Palm
                                                                                               Beach: Susan DiAmicis, Carolyn McElroy

 central West coast regional annual meeting
 Saturday, January 28th, 10am-2pm at rainbow Promise ucc/auburndale, 1145 Hwy 92, auburndale
    Theme: “Becoming Your Greater Yet to Be” (based on John 14:12-14: “I solemnly assure you, the one who has faith in me will do the works
 I do, and greater far than these. Why? Because I go to the Creator, and whatever you ask in my name I will do so as to glorify God.”). This highly
 interactive day will be facilitated by Rev. Nancy Prout, Certified Spiritual Director and Hospice Chaplain. Lunch will be available for $8 per
 person. To register contact Rev. Nancy Prout ( or snail mail to 1620 Park Drive, Lakeland, FL 33803).
14 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................

“celebrating Pride”
                               Kathy Seibert, who chaired the
                               Open & Affirming Committee at
                                                                            Ga y / Lesbian
                               UCC/New Smyrna Beach, was
                               selected to preach one of the recent
                               Sundays Pastor Rev. Dr. Sarah
                               Lund was away on sabbatical
                               (UCC/New Smyrna Beach became                        as a denomination, we are saying that
                               ONA on April 26, 2011). Kathy chose                 you can walk into our churches and be
                               to speak about pride and hubris and                  your true and complete self. i have to
                               share part of what her faith journey
                               has been like. Excerpts from her
                                                                                   admit that i have pride that borders on
                               sermon, “Celebrating Pride,” follow.                 hubris to be a member of this church.

   ….When my second eldest brother, Jeff, told me he was gay                 I learned that there are as many varying views within the Christian
back in the mid 1980s, the social activism gene I inherited from             Church, and especially the UCC, as there are people in the pews.
Dad kicked into high gear. I was comfortable with my many friends               ….The UCC had done so much to enlighten me about God’s
who were lesbians, but I realized that I had some hang-ups about             expansive love that I decided to attend Pacific School of Religion,
gay men. But how could that be? I knew Jeff as my loving brother             a UCC seminary in Berkeley, California. I knew I needed to deepen
who was a good man, not at all what society had told me I should             my understanding of progressive Christianity, and I was doing it at a
believe about gay men. And with that realization came a revelation:          school whose direction statement reads, in part, “We affirm our his-
society must have lied to me. So following in my dad’s footsteps,            toric mission to educate men and women for ministry and other forms
I decided to educate myself.                                                 of religious leadership and to be a center and resource for Christian
   In the beginning, most of my educational journey was self-                thought in an interfaith and pluralistic context.” The world we live in
directed. Like my father, I did not believe that just because most           today is so much more global than 50 years ago, so it makes sense to
people thought one way about a certain topic that it was necessarily         me that a progressive Christian voice needs to be speaking out for folks
the truth. I followed my gut instinct. One thing I knew for certain          who are hungry to hear the message of God’s extravagant welcome.
was that I never had chosen to be straight, it was simply an intrin-         I completed my master’s degree in Spirituality and Sexuality, and
sic part of my being. I didn’t sit down and make a list of pros and          through that I have had the privilege of sharing what I have learned
cons of being gay or straight and say, “Wow, look at all the benefits        over the last 25 years since Jeff came out to his little sister.
straight people get! I’m going to be straight!” Following that logic,           ….And then there is gay pride. For the gay community, it is their
I realized that Jeff could never have chosen to be gay, and that his         right, as it was for African-Americans, to feel free to stand up and be
orientation was as natural to him as mine was to me.                         their authentic selves without apology. For straight allies, it is a chance
   Moving forward to the 1990s, I was living in Bellingham, Washing-         to cheer and support our loved ones who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and
ton, when I discovered something about myself that I was not proud of.       transgender. For people who are uncomfortable with gay pride, I think it
I realized I was guilty of painting all Christians with one brush. That’s    merely comes down to not having enough information. They only need to
because I thought that people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson           try walking in the shoes of people who historically have been despised for
spoke for all Christians. Then I learned about the United Church of          an aspect of their being that God created in them. I believe most people
Christ and its progressive stance on social justice issues. I joined a       want to be welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks,
UCC church and started the next phase of my educational journey.             but they have been negatively conditioned by a homophobic society. I
                                                                             also believe things are changing for the better as we keep working to
                                                                             educate our friends and family about acceptance. My own journey is
                                                                             a testament to that. You will recall I told you that when Jeff came out,
                                                                             I had feelings of discomfort about gay men, but ultimately, I refused
                                                                             to attach those feelings to my brother. By extension, if I did not think
                                                                             about Jeff in the way society had conditioned me, then I could not use
                                                                             society’s prejudices against any gay men. I educated myself and learned
                                                                             that God only expects us to love one another, not judge one another.
                                                                                One of my favorite moments of a service at a UCC church is when
                                                                             the pastor welcomes the congregation and says, “No matter who you
                                                                             are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Do you
                                                                             realize how significant that is? As a denomination, we are saying that
                                                                             you can walk into our churches and be your true and complete self. I
                                                                             have to admit that I have pride that borders on hubris to be a member
                                                                             of this church. I am so grateful that we are making a difference in this
                                                                             community, serving as a place of welcome and enlightenment on so
                                                                             many social justice issues. I pray that as we continue to walk this path,
                                                                             we are mindful of God’s presence beside us and within us.
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012                  15

                                        ona churches in the Florida conference
                                         Here is the most recent listing of ONA congregations in Florida according to the UCC Coalition
                                      for LGBT Concerns ( Arlington Congregational
                                      Church/Jacksonville is the most recent addition (October 23, 2011) to the list. Several others congre-
                                      gations are presently in the discernment process.
                                         The Conference voted to become ONA at the 2010 Annual Meeting

                                                      Jensen Beach Community Church                          UCC/St. Augustine
                                                      First Congregational Church/Lake Helen                 Lakewood UCC/St. Petersburg
                                                      Community UCC/Lake Park                                Trinity UCC/St. Petersburg
Rainbow Promise UCC/Auburndale                        Christ Congregational Church/Miami                     First Congregational UCC/Sarasota
Faith UCC/Bradenton                                   Plymouth Congregational/Miami                          St. Andrew UCC/Sarasota
Coral Gables Congregational Church                    Miami Beach Community Church                           Spring Hill UCC
New Hope UCC/DeLand                                   Miami Shores Community Church                          United Church in Tallahassee
Church of the Palms/Delray Beach                      UCC/New Smyrna Beach                                   First United Church of Tampa
Faith UCC/Dunedin (formerly Clearwater)               First Church of North Miami Congregational             Coral Isles Church/Tavernier
First Congregational Church/Fort Lauderdale           First Congregational UCC/Ocala                         Venice UCC
Pilgrims’ UCC/Fruitland Park                          Hope Unites/Orlando                                    UCC at The Villages
United Church of Gainesville                          Riviera UCC/Palm Bay                                   Union Congregational Church/West Palm Beach
Riverside UCC/Jacksonville                            Good Samaritan Church/Pinellas Park                    Trinity Congregational/Winter Haven
Arlington Congregational Church/Jacksonville          Hope UCC/Rockledge                                     First Congregational Church/Winter Park

                                                                              nine member Pastoral Search Committee was elated to see
                                                                              the process come full circle! PoUCC welcomes Pastor bill
                                                                              and wife lisa with open arms as they journey into the future
                                                                              together. imagine what is possible…thanks be to God!
                                                                              rev. Steve Heath (right) was installed as pastor of Union
                                                                              Congregational UCC/Holly
                                                                              Hill on Sunday, october
Deborah mcbride, o, First Congregational UCC/Sarasota,                        16th. a liturgical celebration
december 4                                                                    was held at 4pm with the
                                                                              participation of: rev. kent
David Wild, iNStall, Marion oaks Community                                    Siladi (Florida Conference
Congregational UCC/ocala, February 19                                         Minister) (left); rev. Dr.
Harvey lockhart, eC, Church of the open door                                  raymond Hargrove (Ne
Congregational/Miami, November 13                                             regional Conference
megan koralis, eC, Coral Gables Congregational Church,                        Minister) (rear); rev. Dr.
January 8                                                                     bill Wealand; rev. John
                                                                              nutting; rev. David Troxler;
robert Sichta, P, Congregational UCC/bradenton, service                       linda Davidson (Church
begins February 1                                                             Moderator) and David Heald
barry mick, SS, Congregational UCC/bradenton, service                         (Committee on Church and
concludes January 31                                                          Ministry). Special music was
Joseph laDu, iN, north Port Community UCC, service                            provided by choir director
began November 1                                                              yvonne Harris and the choir.
                                                                              during the reception following the service, rev. Heath was
Susan Sherwood, P, Good Samaritan Church/Pinellas                             presented with a chalice, paten and pitcher set.
Park, service concludes February 19
                                                                              on November 5th rev. beverly ross (coral Gables
ann Phillips, 4W, Venice UCC, January 29                                      congregational church) became a certified association for
charles mory, p/t iN, First Congregational UCC/Palm City,                     Clinical Pastoral education Supervisor and has expressed
service concludes January 8                                                   her appreciation to the Florida Conference for its support
on Sunday, November 13th, rev. Dr. William J. Wassner                         through her process of certification. She is a Chaplain with
was officially installed as Port orange ucc’s permanent                       VitaS innovative Hospice Care for dade/Monroe.
Senior Pastor. it was a truly joyous day followed by a                        Fort myers congregational church will celebrate its 35th
wonderful reception and celebration. Special participants in                  anniversary on January 8th.
the service included Florida Conference Minister rev. kent
Siladi, Ne regional Conference Minister rev. Dr. raymond                       Key: P (Pastor), SP (Senior Pastor), AP (Associate/Assistant Pastor), IN (In-
Hargrove, Pastor emeritus rev. bill ebbert, Florida                            terim), p/t (part time), O (ordination), INSTALL (installation), EC (ecclesiastical
Conference Committee on Church and Ministry member                             council) PoC (privilege of call), R (retired), LM (Licensed Minister), 4W (4 way
David Heald and PoUCC Moderator Sherian buller. the                            covenant), SS (Stated Supply)
16 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................

Sabbatical: rekindling Spiritual Passion
                                                                                                             The Oxford World Dictionary defines
                                                                                                          “sabbatical” as “a period of paid leave
                                                                                                          granted to a university teacher for study
                                                                                                          or travel, traditionally one year for every
                                                                                                          seven years worked.” Here in the world
                                                                                                          of Christian churches, we generally look
                                                                                                          upon a sabbatical leave as a block of
                                                                                                          earned and deserved “time off” taken by
                                                                                                          clergy for the service they have provided
                                                                                                          to their congregations after a number of
                                                                                                          years of ministry. In the adjoining box,
                                                                                                          our Conference Minister provides us
                                                                                                          with a brief overview of how a sabbati-
                                                                                                          cal “works.”
                                                                                                             We asked several of our Florida clergy
                                                                                                          who recently took a sabbatical to share
                                                                                                          with us a bit about their experience.
                                                                                                          Following is what we learned, but first
                                                                                                          let’s get a better understanding of what
                                                                                                          a sabbatical is.

                                                                             church things, time with family or time alone. It is not a vacation.
          rofessionals throughout our society often suffer from stress
                                                                             It is a time for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking
          and emotional fatigue related to their particular vocations.
                                                                             anew God’s life-giving waters and for regaining enthusiasm and
          Some corporations have recognized the negative impact of
                                                                             creativity for ministry.
such occurrences and have decided to offer positive solutions. Intel,
Apple, Ralston Purina, McDonald’s, Wells Fargo and Nike have                     Genesis and Leviticus speak of “Sabbath time” in terms of days,
discovered that paid sabbaticals after four-seven years of service           years and land usage. Since the Sabbath is recognized as a distinc-
energize their leaders for greater vision and productivity. Many use         tive time in creation – as a gift of rest for both renewal and hope
sabbaticals as a recruitment and retention tool.                             – Scripture infers that regular, periodic rejuvenation is vital in all
                                                                             areas of life. The Old Testament writers directed a time period for
    Roy Oswald, Senior consultant at the Alban Institute, indicates
                                                                             the soil to remain untilled so that it could replenish itself. Just like
that studies identify the ordained ministry as the number one “burn-
                                                                             the soil, human beings need a season to lie fallow for revitalization
out” profession in the country. The primary cause is what pastors
                                                                             of the body, mind and soul.
refer to as “compassion fatigue.”
                                                                                 A sabbatical allows the pastor to get off the treadmill in exchange
   • being on call 24 hours with a workday that can be 12-14 hours
                                                                             for a battery recharge of vision and hope. It created an opportunity
   • taking only one day off per week when most other working                for the pastor to:
people take two
                                                                                 • Recapture a sense of vision
   • working on holidays such as Christmas and Easter
                                                                                 • Be nurtured in faith and skills
   Sabbaticals have a way of renewing perspectives and revitalizing
                                                                                 • Become introspective
                                                                                 • Rekindle spiritual passion
   The sabbatical tradition began in the university at the time when
the university was a part of the church. The idea then was that                  • Refocus priorities
Doctors of the church, who were the university professors, needed                • Review the ministerial journey
one year in every seven to become students again and refresh their
                                                                                 • Reflect on the call of God for life and ministry.
calling. That tradition is alive and well in universities and colleges
throughout the world.                                                            Now a sabbatical may be well-deserved, but that is NOT a good
                                                                             reason to ask for one. A sabbatical is not only for the pastor him/
   It has become increasingly recognized that sabbaticals for clergy
                                                                             herself. It is also for the congregation.
are of great importance not only to pastors but to the congregations
that they serve.                                                             How Does It Help a congregation?
                                                                                 It is a time to develop lay leadership which might not otherwise
   A pastor is above all an authentic spiritual leader who has a
                                                                             step up because “the pastor does that.” It can be a great occasion
number of specific tasks and roles, but underlying all of them is
                                                                             for re-visioning, re-invigorating and recommitting lay leadership.
his or her role as spiritual leader. So what kind of sabbatical is
appropriate for a spiritual leader? It probably needs to include                 It can give the congregation and particularly the leadership a
components which permit time for reflection, for rekindling the              much clearer picture of what actually happens in the congregation
spirit and the sense of calling by God, for reconnecting more deeply         and what the pastor does.
with the tradition (Scripture, theology, liturgy) and for deepening              It may be a time for the congregation to get into the “Sabbath”
one’s own spiritual life. It may also need to include time away from         mood -- a distinctively counter- cultural stance of letting go and let-
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   17
ting God and rethinking the “busyness” of congregational, family                Regularly budgeted item (Lilly grants are one source of outside
and individual life.                                                          funding)
   The sabbatical can provide refreshed, reenergized pastoral leader-           • Report back to the congregation on the sabbatical.
ship and may well extend the “effective” life of the pastor.                    • Establish a single contact person during the sabbatical.
   The sabbatical can be a means by which the pastor can bring back             • Pastor designs the sabbatical and has the plan approved by the
to the church new ideas picked up from other churches.                        appropriate board. The plan should include:
   The congregation can benefit by letting the pastor experience                • What the pastor desires to accomplish during the sabbatical
life from the perspective of the pew, which can help the pastor
identify with some of the concerns and assumptions of people in                 • A description of the plan
the congregation.                                                               • Detailed congregational assignments during the absence
   In some cases, the sabbatical time may be a time for equipping the
pastor for a new challenge or program chosen by the congregation.                 This document was prepared
                                                                                several years ago by Conference
   Sabbaticals often extend the pastor’s tenure with the congregation.          Minister Rev. Kent Siladi as a
Process/Policy                                                                  way to introduce the idea of sab-
   • Three months for six years served is common.                               baticals to churches.

  rev. bill klossner                                               rev. Phil White
  congregational ucc/Punta Gorda                                   Fort myers congregational church

     “H      ow will I be part of God’s mission of re-
             creation and renewal?” That was the ques-                I  was able to make significant progress on the two projects I had intended
                                                                         to work on. One is a book (working
                                                                   title, Divine Detectives) about reading crime
  tion to answer when I was offered a sabbatical leave in
  2009 after 20 years of ministry at the Congregational            fiction as a spiritual exercise, emphasizing
  UCC/Punta Gorda.                                                 those books that have a clergy person or other
                                                                   religious professional solving the crimes. The
     I found my answer in different places, first, by shar-        other is a multi-generational curriculum on the
  ing for a month in the mission and ministry to Biloxi            Reformation, using a mini-Renaissance Faire
  and Mississippi’s Gulf Coast at the Back Bay Mission.            as the medium. Both are projects I began 12
  I immersed myself in their diverse activities, provid-           years ago on which I have been wanting to
  ing help and hope to the marginalized families still             spend some focused time.
  recovering from Hurricane Katrina and the collapsed
  economy. The second month I discovered the power
  of heritage and history in the faith as my wife, Chris,                  Will Rev. Phil become Detective Phil?
  and I traveled in Switzerland and Italy, giving us time
  to renew our lives and provide experiences that later
  became presentations on worship, community and our
  Christian heritage for my congregation.                           rev. Dr. ron Patterson
                                                                    naples ucc
     The last month allowed me the time to process my

  experiences and reinvigorate myself before my return                   spent the first two months of my sabbatical living in New York City and
  to daily ministry. For me, sabbatical leave meant al-                  volunteering at the Cloisters Museum, which is part of the Metropolitan
  lowing the unexpected movement of God’s Spirit in                 Museum of Art. I worked as an assistant to the Director of Horticulture for
  my life and in the life of those with whom I minister.            the museum. They have extensive medieval gardens which are surrounded
  Altar Window, Basilica San Domenico, Siena,                       by traditional cloister walks. Flowers, trees, vegetables and herbs from
  Tuscany, Italy (reliquary of Catherine of Siena)                  the Middle Ages receive meticulous care in the midst of one of the best
                                                                    collections of Medieval art in the world. Each day I gardened and spent
                                                                    time with the art and interacting with visi-
                                                                    tors and staff members. The Cloisters was
                                                                    constructed to reflect a typical monastery
                                                                    of the 11th century and sits on a cliff over-
                                                                    looking the Hudson River near the northern
                                                                    tip of Manhattan Island. It includes rooms
                                                                    and even parts of two chapels built in the
                                                                    Middle Ages.
                                                                       The third month of my sabbatical was
                                                                    divided between reading and an intense
                                                                    weaving class in the Pacific Northwest. My
                                                                    sabbatical combined learning, meaningful
                                                                    physical activity, recreation and the en-
                                                                    hancement of my abilities as a servant of
                                                                    the Church.
18 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................
                                                                        rev. Dr. Sarah lund
                                                                        ucc/new Smyrna beach
                                                                         Attending Synod in Tampa
                                                                         Pulpit exchange with the Tiegnmouth Reformed Church of England
                                                                         Visiting gothic cathedrals in England, The Netherlands and France
                                                                         Attending church with my family in Merritt Island and Melbourne
                                                                         Serving as a UCC delegate to the regional meeting of the World
                                                                        Communion of Reformed Churches held in the Dominican Republic
                                                                         Reading books about spirituality, church stewardship, church growth,
                                                                        ministries of social justice, Bible study and women in ministry
                                                                         Reflecting and writing about my faith formation and spiritual journey
                                                                         Being a “stay-at-home-Mom” with my two-year old son, enjoying
                                                                                       going to mom and tot play dates at the beach, museum
                                                                                       and parks
                                                                                        Celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary
                                                                                        Attending a spiritual retreat with my Sabbath sisters
                                                                                       (three other clergy women) in Santa Fe where we had 24
      Jonathan, Carter and Sarah                                                       hours of silence, meditative walks in nature, visited muse-
                                                                                       ums and walked the labyrinth of the St. Francis Cathedral
                                                                                          I think what makes my sabbatical a true success is
                Preaching at the Reformed
                Church of England                                                      that it made me aware of just how much I missed being
                                                                                       in community with my church family.

 rev. Dr. r. Steven Hudder                                                     -- and know what I was getting -- and serve as our tour guide as
 christ congregational church/ miami                                           we visited Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Machu Pichu
                                                                               and Cusco in Peru.

    I  t was a dream come true. Beginning with the announcement
       letter from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., that we had received
 the Pastoral Sabbatical grant, an amazing adventure unfolded for
                                                                                  The Lilly Endowment grant emphasized that the sabbatical
                                                                               experience was not only for the renewal and growth of the pastor
                                                                               but also for the congregation. While I was away the members of
 me and the members of Christ Congregational Church. For four                  the church, with the assistance of an Interim Pastor paid for by
 glorious months in 2008 I enjoyed time away from my regular                   the grant, also immersed themselves in learning about Spanish
 duties as pastor to reconnect in a deeper way with family, with               language and culture through conversational Spanish language
 myself and with God. Beginning in July my son helped me dis-                  classes, monthly theme meals presenting food from Central and
 connect from the constant mental and emotional attachment to                  South America, tango and salsa classes and a domino tournament
 the church through six days spent in the Boundary Waters Canoe                night. Everyone agreed that the sabbatical experience was an en-
 Area Wilderness, unplugged from all cell phones, computers,                   riching and growing experience for both Pastor and congregants.
 pagers, televisions and radios, etc. Upon our return
 to civilization, we traveled the Midwest visiting other
 family, some of whom I had not seen for many years.
    Upon our return to Miami it was time to finish final
 preparations for the central focus of the sabbatical: my
 trip to Argentina for three months to immerse myself
 in a Spanish-speaking culture so that I might learn to
 speak the Spanish language as well as experience liv-
 ing in a dramatically different culture. Argentina was
 like a fantasy come to life: from the bustling city of
 Buenos Aires, with its old world European architec-
 ture, tango clubs and mouth-watering steak dinners
 to the historic city of Cordoba with the third-oldest
 university in the Americas, to the quaint alpinesque
 village of Bariloche at the foothills of the Patagonian
 Andes and everyone speaking Spanish all the time.
     After an initial six-weeks of formal language school
 classes in the mornings, I was becoming functionally
 fluent in the language so that by the time my wife, Di-
 anne, joined me for the final month in South America,
 I was able to navigate the cities, order from the menus
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   19
 rev. Dr. keith Haemmelmann                                                                              Sunrise on Mount Sinai
 Pass-a-Grille beach community ucc/St. Pete beach
     This past summer I was privileged to work and travel in Israel, Egypt and South Africa
 through the generosity of the Lilly Foundation. This grant was especially wonderful because
 it allowed my wife, Jeanne, to join me for much of this time.
     My experience began with an archaeological dig in Tel Dor, Israel, sponsored jointly by Haifa
 University and the University of Washington. There I was able to participate, along with 60 oth-
 ers in “digging” into this ancient site; I worked at the “Bronze Era level.” Finding, registering
                                                   and learning -- not only about this particular site
                                                   but all the “ins and outs” of archaeology -- was
                                                   extremely fascinating. And there is so much
                                                   currently going on in this field.
                                                      Jeanne and I then lived and traveled in Israel
                                                  and Egypt for additional time, up and down the
                                                  Nile. Our hotel was blocks from Tahir Square,
                                                  and we felt very privileged to have the time to
                                                  visit with the general population in the wake of
                                                  the recent and on-going revolution. Especially meaningful for my own spiritual growth was
                                                  a nightime climb up Mt. Sinai to experience the sunrise. Absolutely nothing else like it!
                                                      The final leg of our journey was spent in South Africa where we visited Robben Island, where
                                                  Nelson Mandela was held, as well as experiencing an African safari at Sabi Sabi. However,
                                                  the most meaningful time was the extravagant welcome we received at an evening Mass at St.
                                                  George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, a place best known for a past Bishop named Desmond Tutu.
                                                     I know it’s been said too many times, but . . . it was a trip of a lifetime. We are so grateful.
                                                         [To read about Rev. Keith’s sabbatical, go to, click on “Keith’s blog”
                                                        and then “Go to archive” where the blog begins on June 26th and ends on September 1st.]

rev. Dr. Jeffrey Frantz
miami lakes congregational church
    My sabbatical was a most welcomed period of four months. I ap-
plied for and received a $48,810 grant from the Lilly Foundation. The
application process was involved and required some serious time of
discernment and planning. The way it worked is that $15,000 of the
grant went to the church to pay for the four-month Interim Pastor who
filled in while I was gone and for some other expenses, such a bon
voyage and welcome-back celebration with the church. The remain-
ing $34,810 went to fund the planned events of my sabbatical leave.
     The sabbatical proposal involved the following: 1) a time of
personal decompressing, spiritual renewal and growth; 2) a time of
study to become conversational in French; 3) intellectual stimula-
tion, discerning, and envisioning, particularly with regard to my
Hispanic-Protestant context; 4) physical and emotional refreshment;
and 5) a deepening enjoyment of family relationships.
    My proposal included the following stages for renewal:
                                                                              United States
    1. Nine days to visit my three siblings at their homes here in the
                                                                                 2. A weeklong visit to the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos,
 Ruins at Ephesus                                                             CA, for a time of spiritual reflection and decompressing, under the
                                                                              guidance of a spiritual director
                                                                                 3. A 14-week trip to Aix-en-Provence, France, along with my
                                                                              spouse, to include a ten-day trip to visit parts of Greece and Turkey
                                                                                 4. Four days of re-entry prior to assuming my pastoral function
                                                                              again at my church
                                                                                 Overall, it was a wonderful time away where, for the most part, I
                                                                              was able to fulfill all of the different elements in my sabbatical renewal
                                                                              program. I would urge any church pastor who has at least five years of
                                                                              local church experience (a requirement) to consider applying for a grant
                                                                              in order to benefit from this opportunity for personal and family renewal.
                                                                                                                  [To read about Rev. Jeff’s sabbatical,
                                                                                                       go to]
20 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................
                                                                                        January 18                  Mission Planning Council,
          ber                                       December 11
        em                                                                   RCM Rev. Bill Koch, Broward            Cleveland
    Dec                                       CM Rev. Kent Siladi,
                                                                             clergy group, Congregational                     February 1
                                              Riviera UCC/Palm Bay
                                              RCM Rev. Raymond               Church of Boca Raton                   Gulf Coast region Church &
                                              Hargrove, New Vision                      January 19                  Ministry Committee meeting
                y                                                            CM Rev. Kent Siladi, Council                     February 2
                                              Congregational Church/
                                              Yulee                          of Conference Ministers                RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,
                                                    RCM Rev. Jean            Development Committee                  Boundary training, St.
                                       Simpson, Spring Hill UCC              meeting, Orlando                       Andrew UCC/Sarasota
                                                 December 13                 RCM Rev. Bill Koch,                    RCM Rev. Bill Koch,
                                       Mindy Simmons Holiday                 Hurricane clergy group                 Treasure Coast clergy group
 Scheduled as of 11/25/11              concert, UCC at The Villages          RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                           February 3
          December 1-2                           December 14                 Suncoast clergy group                  Boundary training, Riviera
 CM Rev. Kent Siladi,                  RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                           January 20                  UCC/Palm Bay
 Bishop’s Convocation on               Gulf Coast Region Church &            CM Rev. Kent Siladi,                             February 4
 LGBT Issues, Carefree, AZ             Ministry Committee meeting,           Disciples of Christ fundraiser,        UCC Women Miami-Dade
     December1-January 31              Venice UCC                            Fort Myers                             Counties Region annual
 “Through the Window:                            December 15                            January 21                  meeting, Church of the Open
 Insight into the Spirituality of      RCM Rev. Bill Koch,                   RCM Rev. Bill Koch,                    Door Congregational/Miami
 AIDS” art exhibit, Windermere         Hurricane clergy group,               Southeast Region Church                          February 8
 Union Church                          Coral Gables Congregational           & Ministry meeting, First              RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,
           December 1                  Church                                Congregational Church/Fort             Pinellas Plus clergy group,
 RCM Rev. Raymond                      RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                Lauderdale                             Chapel on the Hill UCC/
 Hargrove, Northeast Clergy            Suncoast clergy group                 RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                 Seminole
 group                                           December 18                 Faith Learning event on                         February 11
           December 3                  RCM Rev. Raymond                      Long Term Care, First                  UCC Women Central East
 Christmas Festival                    Hargrove, Arlington                   Congregational UCC/Sarasota            Coast Region annual meeting,
 fundraiser, Church of the             Congregational Church/                           January 22                  Riviera UCC/Palm Bay
 Isles/Indian Rocks Beach              Jacksonville                          CM Rev. Kent Siladi, Hope                     February 10-11
           December 4                            December 20                 UCC/Rockledge                          Board of Directors meeting,
 RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                RCM Rev. Jean Simpson, Fort           RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                 Orlando
 First Congregational UCC/             Myers clergy group                    Faith UCC/Bradenton                             February 15
 Sarasota                                        December 27                            January 23                  Go-To staff meeting
 Habitat for Humanity                  RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                Rev. Dr. David Lowry                   RCM Rev. Bill Koch,
 spaghetti dinner benefit,             Gator clergy group                    lecture, “Religious Tolerance          Broward clergy group
 Church of the Isles/Indian                       January 5                  in a Changing World Order,”                     February 16
 Rocks Beach                           RCM Rev. Bill Koch, Treasure          Sanibel Congregational UCC             RCM Rev. Bill Koch,
 Community health fair, First          Coast clergy group                               January 24                  Hurricane clergy group
 United Church of Tampa                           January 8                  RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                          February 18
           December 5                  CM Rev. Kent Siladi and               Gator clergy group                     RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,
 CM Rev. Kent Siladi, RCMs             RCM Rev. Jean Simpson, Fort                      January 26                  Gator clergy group, UCC at
 Rev. Bill Koch, Rev. Jean             Myers Congregational Church           Northeast clergy group                 The Villages
 Simpson and Rev. Raymond              RCM Rev. Bill Koch,                   UCC Women/Southwest                    RCM Rev. Bill Koch,
 Hargrove, Social Media                First Congregational UCC/             Coast Region annual meeting,           Southeast Region Church &
 workshop, Community Church/           Palm City and Coral Gables            St. Andrew UCC/Sarasota                Ministry Team meeting, First
 Vero Beach                            Congregational Church                            January 28                  Congregational Church/Fort
           December 6                             January 11                 Central West Coast Regional            Lauderdale
 CM Rev. Kent Siladi, FL               Staff meeting, Orlando                UCC Women meeting,                     UCC Women Gold Coast
 Conference Endowment                  RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                Rainbow Promise UCC/                   Region annual meeting,
 Board meeting, Coral Gables           Pinellas Plus clergy group,           Auburndale                             Union Congregational Church/
 Congregational Church                 Chapel on the Hill UCC/               UCC Women/Central West                 West Palm Beach
           December 7                  Seminole                              Coast Region annual meeting,                    February 19
 Go-To staff meeting                            January 13-15                Rainbow Promise UCC/                   RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,
           December 8                  CM Rev. Kent Siladi, RCMs             Auburndale                             Good Samaritan Church/
 CM Rev. Kent Siladi and               Rev. Jean Simpson and                            January 29                  Pinellas Park and Marion Oaks
 RCM Rev. Raymond                      Rev. Bill Koch, “A January            CM Rev. Kent Siladi, Faith             Community Congregational
 Hargrove, Annual Meeting              Adventure: In Emerging                UCC/Dunedin                            Church/Ocala
 Planning meeting, Community           Christianity” Conference, St.         RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                          February 25
 Church/Vero Beach                     Simons Island, GA                     Venice UCC                             UCC Women St. Johns
 RCM Rev. Jean Simpson,                Walk on the Water                         January 30-February 2              Region annual meeting,
 Mayflower Congregational              youth event, Plymouth                 CM Rev. Kent Siladi, Council           Arlington Congregational
 Church/Naples                         Congregational Church/Miami           of Conference Ministers and            Church/Jacksonville
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   21

                                    youth Ministry

                                                                                  leaders in Washington as part of Mission:1. Host Pastor Rev.
                                                                                  Dr. Laurie Hafner led a special Communion service before the
Fall youth retreat                                                                youth shared reflections on their experience and ways in which
MiChael Cain                                                                      they could offer leadership. Youth as leaders...imagine that!!!
noRtheaSt Regional youth MiniSteR

The Community Church/                                                             Gulf coast youth raise $$$ for mission:1
Vero Beach hosted 140                                                             Jeanne haeMMelMann
youth and their leaders from                                                      gulf CoaSt Regional youth MiniSteR
the Florida Conference for                                                           Jesus’ prayer and his commandment to love our neighbor
this year’s Fall Retreat. Over 50 youth were first-timers at the              inspired the UCC’s special campaign, Mission:1. For 11 days from
retreat. Special musical guest Ken Medema was the highlight of                November 1 to 11, we were one united church on a shared mis-
the weekend, and the Saturday night concert was broadcast live                sion, and so a challenge was issued to the youth of the Florida Gulf
over the Internet.                                                            Coast. Each was asked to raise $111 to help feed the hungry and
   “Imagine All the People” was the theme for the 2011 event,                 confront food-related injustice. Congratulations to all the youth of the
with focus on “me,” “God and me,” “Imagine all the people” and                Gulf Coast who participated in the Mission:1 challenge! The youth of
“Imagine the possibilities.” In addition, there were games, small             Faith UCC/Bradenton, Chapel on the Hill UCC/Seminole, First
group discussions, workshops, and lots of fun swimming and doing              Congregational UCC/Sarasota, and Pass-a-Grille Beach Com-
the obstacle course.                                                          munity UCC/
   For pictures, video and more, “like” our Facebook page at www.             St. Pete Beach,!/UCCFallRetreat                                                collected $2,283
                                                                              which was donat-
                                                                              ed to local shel-
                                                                              ters to help feed
Southeast region youth Summit                                                 the homeless. Job
Rev. dR. Sheila guillauMe
                                                                              well done!! It is
SoutheaSt Regional youth MiniSteR                                             indeed an honor
   Approximately 50 youth and their leaders gathered at Coral                 and a privilege
Gables Gables Congregational Church from November 11th-12th                   to work with
for the annual Southeast Regional Youth Summit. During their time             and know there
together, they were randomly selected to be either wealthy, middle            are such dedicat-
class or poor (with the wealthy being served by servants, the middle          ed youth in our
class enjoying a meal and the poor being the last served...with a             churches.
bowl of rice). Then they all sat down to write letters to their elected                                                          Sarasota youth
22 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................

                                                 news from Inanda Seminary
                                                 byRev. dR. SCott eveRett CoupeR
                                                 (MeMbeR, fiRSt CongRegational ChuRCh/WinteR paRK)
                                                 developMent ManageR, inanda SeMinaRy - duRban, South afRiCa

            uring its “At Home” celebration on October 22nd,
            Inanda Seminary welcomed parents, alumni, friends
            and sponsors to celebrate the extraordinary progress
of the school. The historic independent Christian institution
celebrated its past and present by dedicating new develop-
ments that enable it to serve well long into the future. The
Seminary dedicated a new swimming pool, remembrance
garden and computer lab.
   The estate of the late Dr. Mantombazana Tshabalala-
Msimang, who studied at the Seminary from 1954 to 1958,
donated the pool to honor Dr. Helmut Weigert, who taught at
the school from 1970 to 1974. Mr Mendi Msimang, widower
to Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang, officially opened the pool with
his daughters and grandchildren.
   In 1974, Dr Weigert died attempting to save two Inanda
Seminary students from drowning. Sadly, one student died. Thank-             The Msimang family
fully, the other student survived and attended the pool’s dedication.
The construction of the pool represents a milestone in the life of the
school in the midst of a black urban township.                                  The Inanda Seminary is not resting with these achievements. Cur-
   The Inanda Seminary also opened a beautifully landscaped re-              rently, the school’s largest structure, Phelps Hall, is being restored
membrance garden donated by the Seminary’s alumni (“Old Girls”).             and renovated and the Lucy Lindley Interpretive Centre’s museum
Many were present to officially honor the school by dedicating this          and archive are receiving new exhibitions. New dedications and
contribution to the already verdant campus grounds.                          celebrations will be planned for next year.
   The Solon Foundation funded a portion of the state-of-the-art                                                +++
computer lab. The lab provides modern security, climate control                 On Friday, September 16 , staff of the Killie Campbell Library

and over thirty-seven computer terminals.                                    was present at the historic Inanda Seminary to officially hand over
                                                                             to the school the Bible of the Rev. Daniel Lindley. Lindley was an
                                                                                                       American Board Missionary to the ama-
                                                                                                       Zulu, Boers and British colonists in the
                                                                                                       19th century. Lindley and his wife, Lucy,
                                                                                                       co-founded the school in 1869.
                                                                                                          The staff of the Campbell Library also
                                                                                                       handed over to the Inanda Seminary a hand-
                                                                                                       made US flag. This was made by refugees
                                                                                                       at the Seminary during the South African
                                                                                                       War to show the school’s neutrality.
                                                                                                          [For more about Inanda Seminary, go to
                                                                                                       its website,]

                                                                                                          Have you
                                                                                                          checked the
                                                                                                          national website
                                                                                                          Go to
...................................................................................................... Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012   23

                                    Have you caught
                                      “chili cook off” Fever?
                  Rev. dR. R. Steven huddeR
                  paStoR, ChRiSt CongRegational ChuRCh/MiaMi
                  ConfeRenCe ModeRatoR
                                                                              our congregations in a project to raise additional funding for Our

                                                                              Churches Wider Mission, while also generating strong positive
       know we have entered the season of Advent, but let me                  feelings and an enhanced spirit of joy. The Cook Off is a fun
       encourage you not to wait on this one! Several churches                idea. It is a way churches can build and strengthen community.
       have already been caught in the heat of the Florida Con-               It is also an opportunity to reach into the community in a fun
ference UCC OCWM “Chili Cook Off” fever and are having                        way by inviting celebrity judges from the community to par-
amazing recoveries, marvelous camaraderie and great results!                  ticipate and by inviting neighbors and friends to a fun event.
   The Church by the Sea/Bal Harbour held their first-ever                    It is also a relaxed time when information can be shared in a
Chili Cook Off on a Sunday in October to spectacular results.                 non-threatening way to help educate people about the work and
They had ten cooks (including their Senior Pastor) prepare all                ministry which Our Churches Wider Mission supports. This is
sorts of chili, from vegetarian to true Texas brand chili. The                an important component since the proceeds from the Cook Off
celebrity judges included a local mayor, a police officer and                 will be donated to support Our Churches Wider Mission and
a chef from Johnson & Wales Culinary School. Before that                      people like to know where their dollars are going and what they
Sunday they had sold only 24 tickets, but on Sunday, with the                 are supporting.
aroma of chili wafting throughout the church building, they                      A special task force of the Board developed a simple, handy
ended up selling 80 tickets to people with mouths watering                    manual to assist your church with planning and putting on a Chili
looking to satiate their taste buds.                                                                        Cook Off. One was sent via e-mail
Not only did the event gener-                                                                               or postal service to every church.
ate an additional $1,000 for Our                                                                            If you cannot find your manual,
Church’s Wider Mission, but it                                                                              contact Candy Younglove at the
also generated some goodwill for                                                                            Conference office (cyounglove@
the church in the local community                                                                  or 800/432-8311) and
and provided the members a tasty                                                                            she will send you another copy.
and enjoyable opportunity for fel-
                                                                                                               And it doesn’t have to be a Chili
lowship and a good time.
                                                                                                            Cook Off. Arlington Congrega-
   That testimony was echoed by                                                                             tional Church/Jacksonville held
the Coral Gables Congregational                                                                             a Heritage Dinner, complete with
Church following their Chili                                                                                prime rib prepared by some of the
Cook Off, also held in October.                                                                             men of the church, where several
There were nine chili cooks who                                                                             long- time members of the church
offered up their bowls of chili to                                                                          were honored and had a chance to
the local firefighters who had been                                                                         share their stories about the early
invited to serve as judges for the                                                                          days of the church. This event
event. Tickets were also sold to                                                                            raised $3,000 for OCWM and plans
members and others interested in                                                                            are already underway for next
tasting the chili entries and again                                                                         year’s Heritage Dinner!
money was raised for OCWM. But
                                                                                                               So, catch the fever! Support
as important as the financial support for OCWM was the infor-
                                                                              from your local church for Our Churches Wider Mission doesn’t
mation shared with those present about just what Our Churches
                                                                              have to be a “budget battle” or a divisive discussion about pri-
Wider Mission support is all about. The energy generated by
                                                                              orities. It can be done with a fundraising event or two which
the event for the local church and for the wider ministry of the
                                                                              generate dollars but even more importantly good feelings, good
United Church of Christ was amazing.
                                                                              times, good food and a stronger community.
   So what is all this about Chili Cook Offs? It is a new effort
                                                                                 Catch the fever -- Chili Cook Off fever! Just Imagine the
of the Board of Directors of the Florida Conference to engage

                                                                                The annual report of the Florida conference/ucc
                                                                               for 2010, The Year in Review, is available for viewing
                                                                                on the conference website at the Celebrate Florida
                                                                                link or by going to this link
24 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ......................................................................................................

   Synod Polo Shirt Special                                          Sale
            few specially-designed
            Synod Polo shirts,
            with an embroidered
 Synod logo, are still available
 from the Conference office.
 White Polos in 2X and 3X sizes
 and blue Polos in 3X (65% poly-
 ester, 35% cotton) may be pur-
 chased at the discounted rate of                                                         Great Chrismas gifts...
 $20. Payment may be made by
 check to the Conference office
 (924 North Magnolia Avenue,
 Orlando, FL 32803) and payable
 to the Florida Conference/UCC.
    Add $2.25 for shipping costs
 for one shirt; add an additional
 $1 for each additional shirt in
 the order being mailed to the
 same address.
                                                                                                Yours Today!
                                              Chalice and Paten
   Specially Designed by Michael Nitzsche
     and Created by Marinela Borsten
           for Synod 28 – Tampa

           Each of the unique sets was
          handmade and embossed with

                  General Synod
                   Tampa 2011

      The pottery is organic and made with
       lead-free glazes and natural tones –
    aqua for Florida’s sky and water and red
     and black representing the UCC colors.
    The chalice bowl contains a subtle comma
   and the triangular paten reflects the triune
         God (and with a comma button!).
  As you serve Communion with this special set,
            God is Still Speaking,

     Cost: $100 per set
     Payment may be made via credit card on the Florida Confer-                 Once you have made payment, your set may be picked up
  ence website ( and click “Donation”) or a check made             at First Congregational UCC/Sarasota or for an additional $25
  payable to “Florida Conference UCC” may be sent to the Con-
  ference office (924 N. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803).                charge it will be shipped to you.

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