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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! U 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 http://www.ucc.org/tally.html 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 Rockledge 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 www.uccfla.org E-mail: CelebrateFlorida@uccfla.org Conference Minister Rev. Kent Siladi Editor: Rick Carson Associate Editor: Tom Mitchell Graphic Design /Layout Sharon Bond / ZebraGraphicsUSA@gmail.com ...................................................................................................... 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 firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 T 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... Blues a 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. Miami 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 MiniStRy 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 M 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 S 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 at www.plbaker.net.] 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.uccfla.org, 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 gmail.com 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 Across 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. Florida 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 (www.awakeleadership.com) 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 cdbaby.com). 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 www.charlotteamartin.com. 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 learning.org. 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- email@example.com. 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 www.uccwomen.org 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 conference 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, firstname.lastname@example.org; Regional Rep Eleanor Rouse, 727/541-4517, Rouse_eleanor@verizon.net GrouPS February 4, 2012 Miami-Dade/Monroe Counties Church of the Open Door Congregational/Miami - Regional Rep Patsy McDowell, 786/543- bookS 2075, Peawe19@aol.com 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 Ccrobinson@cfl.rr.com 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 Dcooney65@gmail.com The Book of Acts (UCC/New Smyrna Beach) The Book of Revelation; “World Religions” (Church of the For additional information: visit www.uccwomen.org Isles/Indian Rocks Beach) Bunny Gruntler- 305/302-4305 email@example.com 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 (www.uccwomen.org). 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 Campbell 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 (NNProut@aol.com 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 Update 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 (www.ucccoalition.org/programs/ona/who/list/). 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 s Transition 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. P 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 ministries. • 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 I 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 www.pagchurch.org, 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 www.summerinprovence.blogspot.com/.] 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 Januar 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, facebook.com/#!/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 D 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 th 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, http://www.inanda.org/] Have you checked the national website lately? Go to www.ucc.org ...................................................................................................... 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 I 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 uccfla.org 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 Possibilities! 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 http://www.uccfla.org/ docs/cFannualreview2010color.pdf 24 Celebrate Florida December 2011-January 2012 ...................................................................................................... Synod Polo Shirt Special Sale A 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... order $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 UCC General Synod 28 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 (uccfla.org 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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