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Tuesday - March 25, 2014
Justice & Witness Haystack Awards: Nominations Wanted!

The Justice & Witness Ministry Council is requesting nominations for the 2014 Haystack Awards.

The Haystack Award of the Massachusetts Conference UCC was created to encourage participation in charitable and social justice ministry. Churches are inspired to engage in local and global mission in a variety of ways. Our aim is to recognize these exemplary initiatives currently underway in churches throughout the Conference, express appreciation, and offer incentives for new initiatives.  Any individual, group or institution affiliated with the Massachusetts Conference, UCC is eligible for consideration.

The Council is also encouraging nominations for a youth award.

The application deadline is May 9. Awards will be presented at the 215th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference in Sturbridge, following a luncheon on Saturday, June 14.

Access selection criteria here and an application here. To submit a form, or for more information, email Karen Methot at methotk@macucc.org.

 

Wednesday - March 12, 2014
A Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Background Information

Note: This background information was compiled by the Israel/Palestine Task Team to accompany the resolution (Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ) being proposed at the 215th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference, June 13-14, 2014.

 

Background

The search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians has been a concern of the United Church of Christ for decades. Many General Synod resolutions have endorsed the peace process, advocated for a just and fair resolution to the conflict, involving Israel’s secure existence next to a free and secure Palestinian state, condemned the building of the separation wall and encouraged the application of economic leverage to influence the Israeli government to engage in a just peace process.

United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network

Discerning the need for a grass-roots movement to educate UCC members and call for implementation of these resolutions, a group of concerned UCC members, both volunteer and staff, organized themselves into the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network (UCC PIN) in January 2012. Since that time UCC PIN has written a Mission Statement, put up a Facebook page, created a web site of resources (www.UCCPalestineIsraelNetwork.org), and invited others to join us. At General Synod 29 (2013) UCC PIN sponsored a workshop and a table of resources. We now offer a resolution to General Synod 30 (2015), which would extend economic leverage to support the Palestinian civil society’s call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement and Kairos Document

In 2005 many segments of Palestinian civil society, frustrated with the lack of implementation of the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to lead to a Palestinian State in five years, and inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, issued a call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel. They also invited conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.

The Palestinian civil society BDS call, now led by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee has three stated goals:

  • An end to the occupation
  • Equality for Palestinians now living in Israel; and
  • Recognition of Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

At this time UCC PIN chooses to focus particularly on the first of these goals believing that an end to the occupation is an essential ingredient for a just peace. Therefore, we are calling for divestment from and boycott of companies, which are benefitting financially from the occupation or from the military control of Palestinians. We believe that this step follows from actions already endorsed by previous Synods and is a faithful response to the Kairos Palestine Document.

In 2009 Palestinian Christians of many denominations issued the Kairos Palestine Document, A Moment of Truth, patterned on a similar document written by South African Christians in 1985. They called it “A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” They described their reality under occupation and called out to their fellow Christians around the world to recognize their suffering and to engage in boycotts and divestment as a non-violent means of peaceful resistance. In April 2010, the UCC General Minister and President commended this document to churches and members. He suggested making four commitments:

  • Commit to read, study and reflect on the “Message of Hope” with fellow church members;
  • Commit to visit the region to learn more about the situation on the ground and non-violent responses to it;
  • Commit to advocate with the US government, the most influential party in the negotiations;
  • Commit to support denominational partners in Palestine, which supports the Palestinian economy, and to avoid products that are produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Although Palestinian resistance to conquest and occupation has been ongoing since the days of the Ottoman empire, the present boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has gathered considerable international momentum in the past nine years. Following questions by Quakers concerned about investments linked to the Israeli occupation, Friends Fiduciary, an investment firm serving over 300 Quaker institutions in the US, divested from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Veolia. In 2013, the Mennonite Central Committee voted to divest from companies that benefit from products or services used to perpetrate acts of violence against Palestinians, Israelis and other groups. Hampshire College has divested from companies profiting from the occupation, to name just a few. Many Israeli individuals and human rights organizations support the BDS Movement as do the US groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Palestine solidarity groups have sprung up on campuses all over the US calling for divestment.

The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA,) and the United Church of Canada have all voted to boycott settlement goods. Two of the largest banks in Northern Europe, the Swedish Nordea Bank and the Norwegian Danske Bank have announced they will boycott Israeli banks because they operate in the Palestinian occupied territories.

UCC Responses

Within the UCC, the General Minister and President and the Executive Minister of the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries in October 2012 joined thirteen other ecumenical leaders in signing a letter to Congress calling on them to investigate whether Israel’s use of military aid provided by the United States violates US laws; specifically the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act.

For Advent 2012, the UCC’s Collegium of Officers issued a pastoral letter calling upon church members “to make conscious decisions not to buy products which contribute to the denial of people’s rights to livelihood, land, and property” and to “avoid purchasing” items such as Ahava Dead Sea skin care products, SodaStream home carbonation products, HP computers and peripherals, and Caterpillar products.

Past General Synods of the UCC have endorsed numerous boycott campaigns, including those of the United Farm Workers, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and the Immokalee Workers, and against companies such as Gallo, Taco Bell, Mt. Olive Pickles, Nestle, and Farah Slacks.

The General Synod of the United Church of Christ in 1985 endorsed the international campaign to divest from corporations in South Africa in order to press for the end of apartheid;

Our Role as American Christians

Why should we American Christians care about the resolution of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict?

As members of one body in Christ, we are called to solidarity with our fellow Christians in the Holy Land, who have called us to pursue justice for them and their fellow Palestinians. Their hope is in a God of faith, hope and love and so is ours. With the Disciples of Christ we are in partnership with churches and organizations working directly with Palestinian Christians and with Israeli human rights organizations, which have extensively documented the human rights abuses to which Palestinians are subjected by the Israeli government, military forces and settlers.

As American citizens and taxpayers we are complicit in these abuses by virtue of the $3.1 billion we give to Israel in military aid every year. The US is now committed to giving Israel $30 billion in military aid between 2009 and 2018, thus subsidizing one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Contrary to ordinary US policy, Israel is allowed to use approximately 25% of military aid to purchase equipment from Israeli manufacturers thus indirectly subsidizing Israel’s arms industry. UCC PIN believes these funds could be better used in our own communities to address the needs of America’s poor.

In 2005 General Synod passed a resolution “Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage to Promote Peace in the Middle East”. In 2013 the Executive Council asked the Covenanted Ministries, United Church Funds and the United Church Pension Boards to submit reports to it as to how they had carried out the mandate of the Resolution. United Church Funds reported that they have been part of the Ecumenical Action Group for a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine since 2006. Its purpose is to coordinate engagements with US corporations profiting from the Israeli Occupation. “To ensure its ability to engage with companies most obviously profiting from the Occupation, UCF established a Social Action Fund with its own discretionary funds; that fund holds shares in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola.” UCF has co-filed shareholder resolutions with these companies and intends to file with Microsoft. However, over eight years of corporate engagement have brought little modification in the behavior of these companies and none except Veolia have withdrawn any of their operations from West Bank settlements or ended their lucrative contracts with the Israeli military. UCF has welcomed a UCC PIN Steering Committee member to its meetings and shared information about its corporate engagement work.

The Pension Boards of the UCC have maintained that their fiduciary responsibility to pensioners is paramount and takes precedence over any social justice concerns. They assume that there is no way to develop a human rights screen which would both screen out companies whose products are used by militaries to oppress or control and fulfill its fiduciary responsibility to pensioners. They promote their “positive investment” in the Siraj Fund, but nowhere do they acknowledge the complete control over the Palestinian economy by the Israeli occupying forces, nor the enormous extraction of resources from the West Bank, which benefits the Israeli economy.

The World Bank issued a report on the Palestinian economy on September 23, 2012, which stated that “the sustainability of growth in the Palestinian territories depends upon increasing private investment” but that “restrictions put in place by the Government of Israel continue to stand in the way of potential private investment and remain the major impediment to sustainable economic growth,” citing restriction of movement of persons and goods, the fragmenting of the territory into small enclaves, the restrictions on land and water use, and the unavailability of land in Area C for development as some of the reasons why “the investment climate will remain unfavorable and business opportunities much below potential”.

Why Target These Particular Companies?

All of these companies are involved in supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands in some way as documented by the Israeli organization We Divest (www.wedivest.org) In particular:

Caterpillar is a U.S. American firm that manufactures and provides bulldozers and civil engineering tools. It sells bulldozers to the Israeli army that are weaponized and used in the systematic demolition of homes and civilian infrastructure as part of the Israeli army's doctrine of urban warfare. The Caterpillar sales are covered under U.S. military aid to Israel. Caterpillar bulldozers have been used in war crimes in South Lebanon, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. They have also been used to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank as an arbitrary punitive measure and to build the Separation Wall and illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a global provider of computer products, including PCs, printers, servers, software, and IT services and solutions. HP provides ongoing support and maintenance to a biometric ID system installed in Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, which deprive Palestinians of freedom of movement in their own land and allow the Israeli military occupation to grant or deny special privileges to the civilians under its control. HP also provides the Israeli military with other equipment and services to help it maintain the illegal occupation. In the United States HP is one of the government’s top 25 defense contractors.

Motorola Solutions is an electronics and telecommunication corporation that split from Motorola Inc. in 2011. Through its subsidiary, Motorola Solutions Israel, the company profits from Israel’s control of the Palestinian population by providing surveillance systems around Israeli settlements, checkpoints, and military camps in the West Bank, as well as by providing communication systems to the Israeli Army.

Group 4 Securicor (G4S) is a British-Danish security conglomerate that operates in 120 countries with a net worth of $1 billion. Through its Israeli subsidiary, G4S provides security systems for Israeli prisons and detention centers in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It also provides security services for Israeli military checkpoints, business operating in illegal Israeli settlements, and the Israeli police headquarters in the occupied West Bank.

Veolia’s Israeli subsidiaries operate a settler landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley, and dump Israeli waste from within Israel and from illegal settlements in the occupied area, in violation of international law. Veolia Transdev, which through its subsidiary Connex, operated bus lines for settlers on segregated roads in the Palestinian West Bank, and other lines throughout Israel, it has sold off all of its bus services in Israel/Palestine, but it still owns shares in the Jerusalem Light Rail and continues to operate it. The Jerusalem Light Rail is an infrastructure project connecting Jerusalem with Israeli settlement neighborhoods and settlements, designed by the Israelis on Palestinian land.

SodaStream International, registered in the Netherlands and Israel, manufactures and distributes home carbonation devices and flavoring for soft drinks. SodaStream’s main production site is in Mishor Edomin, the industrial park of Ma’aleh Adumim, an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Ahava manufactures cosmetic products using minerals from the Dead Sea. The company's factory and visitor's center is located in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley. In addition, Ahava is partially owned by the settlement.

Hadiklaim exports dates from Israel and from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, especially in the Jordan Valley. The company markets most of the dates from the occupied Jordan valley and all the dates from the occupied Dead-Sea area. The company markets dates under the brand names of Jordan River, Jordan River Bio-Top and King Solomon, and under private labels of supermarket chains.

UCC PIN’s Resolution

In view of all the conditions outlined above, UCC PIN believes the time has come to fulfill the clause of the 2005 Economic Leverage resolution mentioned above “to divest from companies that refuse to change their practices of gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the Occupation” , and to boycott companies which profit from the occupation of Palestinian land, and therefore, submits the Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Sponsored by the Israel/Palestine Task Team and the Justice and Witness Council of the MACUCC

Wednesday - March 12, 2014
Annual Meeting planning team wants your church's story!

The planning committee for the 215th Annual Meeting June 13 - 14 at the Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center want to hear your church's storiy!

The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting is that of "Works" coming from John 14:12:  "Very truly,  I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father."

To highlight the theme, the Annual Meeting will offer delegates and friends an hour on Friday, June 13, of stories and testimonials about works. The planning team is still collecting stories: stories about works of prayer, works of bridge building, works of generosity and works of justice.
 
The team wants to hear your story. 
 
For more information about what is needed, or to share yoru story, please contact:
Rev. Anne Cubbage, pastor@firstchurchsandwich.org  
Rev.  Nell Fields, fields.nell@gmail.com     
Mr. Vard Johnson, vardinboston@verizon.net 
 
For more information about the Annual Meeting, visit: macucc.org/annualmeeting2014
 
Wednesday - March 12, 2014
Proposed Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

This resolution will come before the 215th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference, June 13-14, 2014.  There is also background information compiled by the Israel/Palestine Task Team.

 

Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict  

Presented by the Justice and Witness Council of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ

The psalmist celebrates, “How good it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 133) Yet today the Middle East is torn by disunity between Semitic brothers and sisters separated by “dividing walls of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14) We hear the call of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) As disciples of Jesus, we hear and seek to heed his call to be peacemakers: responding to violence with non-violence and extending love to all. In the words of the Kairos Palestine Document, “True Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed, a call to justice and equality among peoples.” (Kairos-Palestine 2009: A Moment of Truth)

Therefore, in the spirit of the ancient prophets and the ministry of Jesus, we offer this resolution:

WHEREAS in 1985 the Fifteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ committed itself to be a Just Peace Church; and

WHEREAS historically the UCC has affirmed Israel’s right to exist within secure and internationally recognized boundaries (GS 16[1987], GS 18[1991]), and asserted the rights of Palestinians to enjoy sovereignty in an independent, contiguous, and viable state of their own, within secure and recognized boundaries (GS 16 [1987], GS 17[1989]) & GS 18[1991]; and

WHEREAS past General Synods have identified the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land and its human rights abuses committed therein to be a major source of conflict and have called for the end of the construction and expansion of settlements (GS 18 [1991] & GS 21[1997]); and

WHEREAS the UCC is deeply committed to interfaith relationships and General Synods have confessed to the sin of anti-Semitism and proclaimed its renunciation (GS 23 [2001]); and have denounced actions against Islam or Muslims based on ignorance or fear (GS 28 [2011] ); and

WHEREAS the UCC values its relationships with Jewish groups in the US who have differing perspectives on the conflict and with Jewish Israeli peace activists who have sought justice, equality and freedom for both peoples; and

WHEREAS Palestinians in the West Bank have lived since 1967 under Israeli military occupation which subjects them to many human rights abuses including; loss of their land for the purpose of building Israeli settlements; limited access to their land and to each other due to the route of the Separation Wall on Occupied Palestinian Territory; being systematically pushed into small, non-contiguous geographic enclaves separated by barriers and checkpoints; gross inequality in the amount of water allocated to them; severe and arbitrary travel restrictions; limited access to holy sites; segregated roads; the demolition of homes; destruction of their crops by settlers and the Israeli army; arbitrary arrest, including the arrest of children; and

WHEREAS the Israeli government subjects Palestinians in Gaza to: military attacks using disproportionately overwhelming force; severe limits on personal entry and on the entry of products essential to Gazans’ well-being;
a six mile fishing limit in violation of international law; strict Israeli control of electronic communications, air and sea space, and destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure, and economy; and

WHEREAS Israel has annexed Palestinian East Jerusalem and separated it from the West Bank and Gaza and continues to appropriate Palestinian properties there for Jewish settlements and to deny building permits to Palestinians, as well as revoking the residency rights of many of its Palestinian citizens there; and

WHEREAS Israel refuses to end its occupation of territory conquered in the 1967 War, leading to numerous illegal actions and human rights abuses there by the Israeli government and military in defiance of United Nations resolutions , and Israel refuses to respect the 4th Geneva Convention as called for by the International Court of Justice in its opinion concerning the Separation Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory ; and

WHEREAS our Palestinian Christian partners, seeking an alternative to violence born of hopelessness and despair, have called on their global partners to engage in non- violent measures pressuring Israel to end its occupation, Kairos Palestine 2009-‘A Moment of Truth’: A Word of Faith, Hope, and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering; and

WHEREAS the resolution “Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East,” passed by the General Synod in 2005, called upon “the Covenanted Ministries, Pension Boards, United Church Foundation, local churches and members to use economic leverage, including, but not limited to: advocating the reallocation of US foreign aid so that the militarization of the Middle East is constrained; making positive contributions to groups and partners committed to the non-violent resolution of the conflict; challenging the practices of corporations that gain from the continuation of the conflict; and divesting from those companies that refuse to change their practice of gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the Occupation”; and

WHEREAS despite years of corporate engagement and the submission of shareholder resolutions from United Church Funds and other religious and secular groups, few companies have withdrawn any of their operations that support the Occupation; and

WHEREAS Jewish groups in the US such as Jewish Voice for Peace and American Jews for a Just Peace-Boston as well as Israeli groups such as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Coalition of Women for Peace support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against the Israeli Occupation;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Thirtieth General Synod:

CALLS upon the churches and church members to study the Kairos Palestine document and take heed of its call for solidarity with the Palestinian people; and

CALLS upon the United Church of Christ Board, United Church of Christ Pension Boards, United Church Funds, Conferences, local churches, members, and other related United Church of Christ entities to divest any holdings in companies profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel, including, but not limited to, Caterpillar Inc, Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard Development Company LP, G4S, and Veolia Environnment and its subsidiaries; and

CALLS upon all entities of the church to boycott goods produced by Israeli companies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including, but not limited to, Ahava skin care products, SodaStream products, and Hadiklaim dates; and upon church members to join boycotts in their local communities; and

CALLS upon the UCC Collegium Officers and church members to request Congress to investigate whether US military aid given to Israel violates US laws, specifically, the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act; and

CALLS upon the United Church of Christ Board to monitor the implementation of this resolution by all UCC entities and to ensure that those who manage the United Church Board’s own invested funds and provide United Church Board employee health and pension benefits are in compliance with the resolution; and

ASKS the General Minister and President to provide an annual report to the whole church on the implementation of this resolution.
 

Tuesday - March 4, 2014
Inspiring Super Saturday draws 650 to Ludlow

By Eric Anderson, Connecticut Conference UCC
and Tiffany Vail, Massachusets Conference UCC

NOTE: VIew photos on this website here and on Flickr here. More videos from the event will be made available soon.

The Twitterverse offers a snapshot of the Super Saturday experience last weekend: “Inspiring.” “Amazing.” “Diana Butler Bass left me tweetless--didn’t want to miss a word.” And it didn’t hurt that the keynote speaker herself declared, “Thanks, Mass & CT UCC. YOU ROCK!”

The March 1st Super Saturday was a joint effort of the Connecticut and Massachusetts Conferences -- an event that attracted 650 people for worship, workshops, and two opportunities to hear from acclaimed author and church historian Diana Butler Bass.
 
“What a Super Saturday it was!” exulted Connecticut Conference Minister the Rev. Kent J. Siladi. “In an historic moment the Connecticut and Massachusetts Conferences gathered in a spirit of unity and interdependence to worship, to learn and to connect as members of the United Church of Christ.  We are grateful for the offer to cosponsor this event and it was a day of fun and faith building.”
 
Butler Bass' sermon during morning worship emphasized the new dynamics in the American religious landscape, which she declares are signs of a Fourth Great Awakening. (A video of her address will be posted soon.)
 

Super Saturday

"The Awakening is not only about the church, but about the world," she said. "But the church will change as it moves into this Awakening and seeks to be a more vibrant form of neighborliness and community."
 
She said that whatever form the church takes in the course of this Great Awakening, it will be these things:
  1. A church that is more connected to nature, to the earth;
  2. A church that is radically centered in the life of people, with leadership that is completely de-centered;
  3. A mystical church. where beauty and mystery and wonder and not being able to answer questions will be in the center; and
  4. A church for justice, with one of its core convictions being that no human being anywhere on the planet should ever go to bed hungry; where every human being deserves an education; where no one is killed because they are gay or lesbian or of a different religion.
After showing images of how she sees the future church, Butler Bass ended by showing a blank slide.
 
Worship"What is God calling these two conferences of the United Church of Christ to put on this screen?" she asked. "What is your picture of awakening?"
 
Massachusetts Conference Minister and President The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal noted: "This was an historic gathering -- perhaps the largest gathering of UCCers from multiple churches between the 2013 and 2015 national synods."  He went on to say, "It's a sign of things to come -- risking new opportunities to make our conferences and congregations stronger, together."
 
The lay leaders and clergy who attended had the opportunity to go to two workshops on topics such as writing a really good sermon, serving as a deacon, recovering from cultural addictions, climate change, economic justice, stewardship, social media, and more. Butler Bass also led a lunchtime forum, speaking further on her take on the future of the church. The lunch break provided an opportunity to shop in the marketplace and browse displays.
 
Via Twitter, participants shared their appreciation for learning more about vibrant worship, fostering sacred conversations on race, promoting peace and justice in the Middle East, and engaging those who identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”
 
The day’s worship, led by a team of 20/30 clergy including Jonathan Chapman, Pastor of the Westfield Congregational Church in CT; Sarah Weaver, Pastor of the Rehobeth Congregational Church in MA; and Matt Carriker, a spiritual retreat leader in MA; both energized and centered the assembly. Called to awakening as the day began, the worshipers found blessing at day’s end with a tactile reminder of their baptism.
 
Super Saturdays began in Massachusetts a number of years ago, and were similar to events held in Connecticut. This is the first time the two conferences worked together on such an event, drawing workshop and worship leaders from both states.
 
“We look forward to many more cooperative adventures with the Massachusetts Conference,” said Siladi, who has spoken increasingly of nurturing interdependence among congregations and expressions of the UCC. “We share a commitment to making our voice known and living out of the core values of our beloved church.“
 
This day was an opportunity to incarnate the UCC motto:  That they may all be one!”
 
Tuesday - February 25, 2014
Super Saturday full - no walk ins can be accommodated

Nearly 700 people have registered for Super Saturday, being held on March 1st in Ludlow, meaning the event cannot accommodate any more attendees. Most of the 45 workshops are fully booked, and the cafeteria is at capacity for lunch. No walk-ins will be accommodated.

The event, being co-sponsored by the Massachusetts and Connecticut Conferences, is featuring acclaimed author Diana Butler Bass.

Anyone wishing to follow along with the discussions on Saturday can do so using the Twitter hashtag #supersatucc. The next Super Saturday will be held in October, 2014 - the date and location have yet to be announced.

 

Local Buzz
Wednesday - April 16, 2014
SPOTLIGHT: New Focus on Serving the Community
Foster Memorial Members Are Taking Off Their Bibs and Putting on Aprons
Monday - April 7, 2014
SPOTLIGHT: When Teens Die Unexpectedly: Hopedale Helps a Community Grieve
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Wednesday - March 12, 2014
SPOTLIGHT: Warming Up the Community: Waquoit Members Offer Church as Power Outage Station
Waquoit Members Offer Church as Power Outage Station
Friday - February 7, 2014
SPOTLIGHT: Saturday, Sing-A-Long, Shorter Service
West Barnstable Offers a Second, Differently Creative, Worship Service To Bring in New Families
Wednesday - January 22, 2014
SPOTLIGHT: A Spiritual Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Longmeadow Church Members Run and Participate in Church-Wide Blog
Friday - December 27, 2013
SPOTLIGHT: Find Your Inner Peace Before The Clock Strikes 12:00
Greenfield Church Offers Taize New Year's Eve Service
Friday - December 20, 2013
SPOTLIGHT: Setting Up Their Own Food Network
Memorial Congregational Church of Sudbury gathers local congregations to package thousands of meals
Wednesday - November 13, 2013
SPOTLIGHT: The Hispanic Community Church in Jamaica Plain Brings Praise to the Parade
The Hispanic Community Church in Jamaica Plain Brings Praise to the Parade
Blogs
Tuesday - April 22, 2014 - by: Wendy Vander Hart
A request for prayers from Korea

I received this prayer request from Daniel Lee, who served the former All Peoples Church in Belmont. 


 

 

 

Dear Colleagues and Friends in Christ,

This is Daniel Lee from Korea. As you heard from news, all Korean people are now grieving for the sudden disaster and suffering from trauma. The National Council of Churches in Korea has declared a special prayer period from April 21 to May 5 for the parents and the families of the victims in the passenger ferry capsized in the waters last Wednesday. 320 out of total 475 passengers on board were high school students who were going to Jeju Island for their field trip. Only 174 passengers including 77 students were rescued. The rescue and search process is still going on. People here are all shocked and feeling frustrated by this sudden disaster.

So I’d like to ask all of you and your churches to join us in this special prayer period for the people of south Korea, particularly the parents and families of the victims.

Peace and Grace in Christ,

Daniel Lee

Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Lee
United Church of Christ/
Christian Church(Disciples of Christ)
Missionary in Residence
at Hanshin University
Seoul, Republic of Korea
 

 

Wednesday - April 16, 2014 - by: Justice & Witness News Briefs
Journey to Chile

by Sarah Myntti (from her sermon at Athol Congregational Church)

At the beginning of last summer , I told my mom I wanted to go on an adventure; I wanted to do something exciting and experience something new. A few days later my mom jokingly mentioned that our pastor, Reverend Beverly, was going to Chile and I should tag along with her as my adventure. My mom didn’t think I would take that suggestion seriously …but I did. It sounded perfect. I approached Reverend Beverly about it and she along her friend and coworker Elena Huegel, Global Ministries missionary to Chile, worked so hard at figuring out my travel arrangements, my schedule, and where I would be staying for the next week. So I owe so much thanks to them both. I set out to visit our sister church, which is part of a program of the Massachusetts Conference. We are partnering for three years with a church in Chile that lost its church building in the earthquake of 2010. We will pray with each other, communicate, and our church will raise money to help them rebuild.

On our second day Beverly, Elena, and I traveled to a city called Talca. I was shown around the city by a girl named Daniella. I speak very little Spanish and she spoke very little English so it was a bit of a challenge to communicate. As I was walking down the street with her, it kind of hit me all at once how far I truly was from home...as if the 13 hour plane ride didn’t give me enough of a clue. Daniella and I were doing some shopping and I began to have a little bit of an uneasy feeling as I realized a few things. I had no idea what the girl on the phone in front of me was saying because I couldn’t understand the Spanish. I had no idea what the street signs said or what the store names were, or I didn’t even know what was around the next corner. Everything was so foreign to me. Daniella had to order for me at the restaurant because I couldn’t read the menu or communicate with the waitress.

It was such a strange, uncomfortable, and confusing feeling to be somewhere that was so different to me and having to give all control over to someone else, and to depend on someone else wholly to guide me. I didn’t like feeling that way, but it’s something I never want to forget because I would never want someone else to feel lost like that either. I definitely have more compassion now than I ever did for people just coming into our country because even as I tried to learn more Spanish, picking up a new language is not easy by any means and neither is figuring your own way around foreign land. These thoughts and feelings were really eye opening to me and nothing I ever considered would happen to me on that trip. I knew I was going to have an amazing adventure wherever I ended up, but I didn’t anticipate a feeling of helplessness along the way.


On Thursday evening I was going to part ways with Reverend Beverly and stay with Pastor of our sister church and his family for the next four days in a town called Vichuquen. I admitted to Beverly - it finally hit me I was getting a little nervous to go to their house because of the communication issue. As we were talking and she was giving me some advice, I glanced down at the floor and right by feet I saw a penny. During worship, a choir member, Jason has talked several times about finding a penny when he was lonely or afraid, and he said it meant a guardian angel was watching over me. I couldn’t have found it at a more perfect time. As I showed Reverend Beverly I got a huge smile on my face and there was part of me that felt a little better on the inside. I put it in my pocket for the rest of the trip. But I quickly realized, I really had nothing to be nervous about. The language barrier was challenging but Pastor Luis and his wife, Pastora Mari, and their two children Fernanda and Luis Jr were so patient with me and so kind. They welcomed me with a huge cake Pastora Mari’s friend made for me. We sat in the living room that night eating cake and drinking tea while Pastor Luis played the accordion, Luis Jr played the guitar, and Fernanda sang and played the mandolin. They made me feel so comfortable. After that Luis Jr took my hand and showed me the bed I was going to sleep in. I slept in his bed, while he slept on the couch. Already I could tell how truly kind this family was and I felt extremely humbled to be there.

Over the next few days the family showed me all around their town, we went sight-seeing, to the local wood crafter’s shop, I made pottery with Fernanda, we went to the beach, out to eat, and I visited Fernanda and Luis’s school. They also took me to the site where their church got destroyed by the earthquake. It was so sad to see. Everything was completely gone and so far in the three years since the earthquake all they’ve had the money for to rebuild was the frame of the church. So until it gets done they travel to another Pentecostal Church about an hour away and use that building for their services. It’s a small building with no windows and little decoration, but filled with some of the most high spirited people I have ever met. Seventeen people make up their congregation and each of them greeted me with nothing but smiles and blessings. Everyone was so friendly and warm. As Pastor Luis was preaching two of the men had tears in their eyes and the congregation repeatedly shouted AMEN. Without even speaking the language, you could tell how much they praised God. It was beautiful to witness.

At the next service the following day, the English teacher from the school, also named Daniella, agreed to come to church with us so she could translate for me. And I also got to address their congregation too, telling a little bit about myself, my family, and our church. I received a blessing from Pastor Luis that night, and tears filled my eyes. It was absolutely great to be able to communicate with them with Daniella there. I truly feel like I have a new family with their church, which means we all do. They are all so humble and look to God with all aspects of their lives and have complete trust in Him. They don’t have nearly as much as we do here but they are so grateful for what they do have. Pastor Luis says he prays every night that their new church will come together soon. And these people really deserve it.

I’m so happy I went on this trip with Reverend Beverly and the people I met, the connections I made, and the beautiful land and sights I saw are things I will never forget.

Photos by Beverly Prestwood-Taylor: Author and traveler Sarah Myntti; Pastor Luis and Pastora Mari in their church, destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.

Wednesday - April 16, 2014 - by: Justice & Witness News Briefs
MA Faith Voices takes action on minimum wage bill

Twenty members of Massachusetts Faith Voices delivered a letter to State House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray last week, signed by the interfaith group of 344 religious leaders and written in support of a new state minimum wage bill. While both houses have approved a hike in the current $8 minimum wage over the next three years, the group is urging lawmakers to tie the minimum wage increase to the rate of inflation (which is not currently part of the House-proposed bill), and to increase the minimum wage for workers who earn tips to 50 percent of the regular minimum wage.

Ian Holland, pastor of First Church in Swampscott UCC, was among those addressing lawmakers last week.

"It’s a moral issue for us. We believe it’s a right of dignity for all workers and we believe there are members of our congregations who are behind this bill - and a complete bill and a just bill that includes indexing as well as justice for workers who are on tipped wages,” Pastor Holland told the State House News Service.

Read more on the MA Community Action Network website.  Read the State House News article.

 

 

Wednesday - April 16, 2014 - by: Barbara Schenk
Planting Seeds for New Beginnings

By The Rev. Barbara Schenk
Pastor at Foster Memorial, UCC, Springfield

One of the wonderful stories from the Lenten season is the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus.   Jesus’ words about the need to be born of the Spirit and born anew resonate with the current happenings at our church

We have a strong history and, although our numbers are not what they were decades ago, we’re forging ways to deepen our faith while striving to define our identity and place in our community. We’re an ONA church that displays a prominent rainbow on our church sign. We are interested in global ministries, sponsoring a Tibetan child and recently dedicating a Peace Pole on our church lawn. We have a newly formed Visual Arts Team whose ministry adds beauty and meaning for our worship services. We have brand new partnerships with an elementary school and local Habitat for Humanity that symbolize our love for children and outreach. We’re exploring small group opportunities to include the community, starting with a monthly Poetry Exploration group.
 
These and many more changes and additions have come about both organically and with intention.  In the fall of 2012, I served on the Hampden Association’s Annual Meeting planning committee. When Paul Nixon was invited to be our keynote speaker, I invited anyone interested in our church to read and discuss Paul’s book, We Refuse to Lead a Dying Church.  Ten people accepted the invitation and 12 went to hear Paul speak. Six people from the team stayed together, meeting monthly. Some of the team, along with other church members participated in workshops on church growth and vitality at our Conference’s Super Saturday the following spring.
 
We were also getting to know the resources from the Center for Progressive Renewal (CPR) through webinars on various topics. During Lent in 2013, I took CPR’s online course, Church Renewal 101, taught by Mike Piazza and Jim Latimer.  Part of my homework was sharing the webinars for the class with the team. We also read and discussed the course’s text Liberating Hope. We gave ourselves a new name “Seeds” and, with several others from the church, went to hear Mike Piazza speak at our Association’s Annual Meeting in the fall of 2013.
 
At the same time, we hired Mike’s co-teacher, Jim Latimer, as our church’s coach for one year. He and I have a monthly coaching phone conversation, and the team, Jim and I talk together by phone once a month. We set goals for our time together and each month, talk about what was accomplished, what got in the way of accomplishment and our next steps.
 
At our church’s Annual Meeting in February, two of the Seeds team members stepped forward to help with new teams: one to look at our present By Laws and one called the Events team – their goal to help with our church finances,  bring us together in a spirit of camaraderie and fun, and involve our neighborhood with community events. People eagerly volunteered to serve on these teams and they are both moving forward with great momentum.
 
The Seeds group has twelve members at present, including long time members, newer members and folks in between. One of our major goals is to help facilitate communication with the entire congregation about new happenings and our learnings about church renewal and vitality. We are grateful to the Hampden Association for providing scholarships for the cost of my participation in two CPR courses (most recently Experiential Worship that Transforms by Cathy Townley) and for providing such inspirational speakers for our Annual Meetings. We’re grateful to our conference for the great workshops at Super Saturday. We are grateful to our coach, Jim, and recommend him highly to any church looking for guidance in the area of church renewal.
 
And we are so very grateful for the guidance and discernment gifted to us by the Holy Spirit, as we move forward, with the hope of being born anew in this time and place, working in partnership to bear God’s hope and peace and love to our wider community and world.
 
See Foster Memorial’s Spotlight article on their small group and community events.

 

Monday - April 14, 2014 - by: Elena Huegel
Chile in need of our prayers

Dear Friends and Family:

I am sure that by now you have heard of tragedy heaped upon tragedy in Chile. As Bishop Ulises of the Pentecostal Church of Chile prepares to fly to northern Chile to assess the damage from the recent earthquake, a devastating fire in the historic port of Valparai­so has consumed now over 1,000 homes with at least 8,000 people homeless. The weather conditions with hot, dry and shifting winds, along with the coastal mountain terrain has made it very difficult to control the blaze.

Valparai­so is a world heritage site, also known for having been one of the ports mentioned in Moby Dick by Herman Melville. It is the third largest city in Chile, with homes built on the tops of the coastal hills down to where the skirts of these slip into the sea. These coastal hills have been built up in the past years with wooden houses teetering on stilts that cling to the sides of ravines and have spectacular views of the bay. On the opposite side of the hills, away from the coast, the rough terrain is covered with highly flammable pine plantations - where every year there are forest and shrub fires. Sunday night, one of these fires got out of hand and began to burn towards the city.

There are about seven churches of the Pentecostal Church of Chile spread out on the different hills in Valparai­so, but so far, according to the reports that Bishop Ulises has received, none have been affected by the fires. We still do not know if any church members have been affected. For those of you who know the Aguirre family and Pastor Mario Torres and his family, as far as we know they are all ok.

I have been preparing materials on emotional and spiritual first aid from the information we collected after the 2010 earthquake to send to the pastors in northern Chile. This same information will be shared with the pastors in Valparaíso. Sometime later this year, brothers and sisters from the Pentecostal Church of Chile who have been trained by the Shalom Center's "Roots in the ruins: hope in trauma" program will be training pastors and Sunday school teachers to further facilitate trauma healing and resilience development in the churches and communities affected by both the fire and the earthquake.

I thank each of you for your prayers; we certainly need them as the sense of loss this Easter Week will be palpable in the lives of many people. May we bring the hope of Christ's victory over death and destruction to those who suffer in the midst of the ashes and the rubble.

Shalom, Elena

Elena Huegel, Centro Shalom

Wednesday - April 2, 2014 - by: Elena Huegel
News about Chilean Earthquake

A letter from Elena Huegel, Global Ministries' missionary to Chile

April 2, 2014

Dear Friends:

Greetings from Chile in the name of our Creator and Sustainer! I am writing to you this morning to thank all of those who have emailed me and called me asking about the situation in Chile after the earthquake last night in the northern part of the country. Thank you for your concern and your prayers.

I would like to let you know that the earthquake was in the northern part of Chile, in the same area where there have been several severe tremors in the past few weeks, between the cities of Arica and Iquique. We here in the central part of the country, have not felt the effects of these quakes. Even though there were tsunami warnings and massive evacuations, ¡Gloria a Dios! that there wasn`t severe damage and the warnings have been lifted. We can all see that there has been much work to prepare the population for such emergencies - quite different from the 2010 earthquake and tsunami that caught everyone by surprise.

This morning I spoke with Richard, the Bishop's son, to ask him about our brothers and sisters in northern Chile. He has told me that they had been able to communicate with the pastors, and up to this point, there is no report of damage to people's homes or to the churches.

As an additional note, I would like to let you all know that during the past weekend we had an all staff gathering at the Shalom Center along with several members of the new Board. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to affirm our commitment to Shalom! I am sending you a picture of the staff so that you might remember us in your prayers.

Once again, thanks to everyone for your prayers and concern for us here "at the ends of the earth."

 Shalom, Elena

Elena Huegel
Centro Shalom

Events
Thursday - April 24, 2014
Awakenings Study Conference - Holyoke

awakenings 2014

Scholarship, poetry, music, storytelling, laughter and inspiration will weave themselves into the fabric of the awakenings 2014  study conference, set for April 24-27, 2014.  

awakenings plenary presenters will include:  

  • Yvette Flunder, San Francisco, who will provide the opening keynote address on Thursday night, and speak again on Friday morning;  
  • Megan McKenna, Albuquerque, a scholar, gypsy, story-teller and peace activist.  She will speak twice on Friday and do a workshop;   
  • John Dominic Crossan, Orlando, will keynote the conference with a presentation on Friday evening and three on Saturday;  
  • Quinn Caldwell, Syracuse, will speak on Saturday evening and then preach on Sunday morning.  He will lead a workshop on Saturday.  
  • Tom Troeger, New Haven, will be an active observer for the entire conference, then review and reflect on it during an interactive presentation on Sunday afternoon.  
  • Willie Sordillo, Boston, returns with his friends to provide great jazz music throughout the conference.


Look for great workshops, a bookstore and marketplace, and many more surprises.  

This year, partial registrations will be available for those who are not able to attend the entire conference.
Conference meals can be reserved for Friday and Saturday -- lunch and dinner.  
Students are welcome to register for half-price.

Thursday - April 24, 2014
Wendy's Office Hours at Panera Bread (Danvers)

Directions can be found here.

Friday - April 25, 2014
Faith Circle Spring Rummage Sale - North Reading

Faith Circle Spring Rummage Sale

Saturday - April 26, 2014
Park Ave Church Rummage Sale - Arlington

Park Avenue Cong. Church will hold its annual rummage sale on Sat., 4/26, from 9 am to 2 pm. For sale will be clothing for men, women and children, jewelry, books, CDs, DVDs, toys, sports equipment, housewares, and white elephants galore. There will be a ladies' boutique with accessories. At 1 pm, the popular bag sale will start. A bag is purchased for $3 and can be filled with any remaining items for sale. This event is free and handicapped accessible. Please call the church office at 643-8680 for more information.

Saturday - April 26, 2014
Rally on Boston Common for Jobs, NOT Jails

Go to jobsnotjails now and pledge to attend this rally!

 

 

 

See updated information at the bottom of this page about bus transporation to the rally.

A rally is planned for Saturday, April 26, on Boston Common in support of the Jobs NOT Jails initiative. As many as 10,000 people from across Massachusetts are expected to attend.  Download a flyer here.

Jobs Not Jails is an umbrella campaign, bringing together a diverse array of people who care about the future of our economy, and about the damage that mass incarceration is doing to our communities. It is not a legislative strategy. It pulls together dozens of organizations who are leading separate legislative strategies – for everything from a higher minimum wage to the creation of an innocence commission – uniting all with the realization that each goal will be more attainable if there are 10,000 people on Boston Common on April 26, 2014 demanding Jobs, Not Jails. 

Learn more about the Jobs Not Jails initative here

The campaign needs volunteers to help inform citizens of its goals, collect petition signatures (access a petition form here) and join the rally on the Common on April 26. Some MACUCC congregations have held 'signing sabbaths', and others have gone out into their community to collect petition signatures. To learn more about how you or your congregation can help, please contact Jon Tetherly (Innocence Commission Task Team chair);  Mike Rich (Restorative Jusitce Task Team chair); or Cassandra BenSahih of EPOCA:  http://www.exprisoners.org/

Lawmakers need to know what their constituents want. Too often we hear legislators say, “my constituents want me to be tougher on ‘criminals’, even if it actually leads to more crime.” Here is the chance to let them know that voters appreciate careful and thoughtful strategies to address the root causes of crime – poverty, desperation, mental illness and addiction – rather than damning people to decades of “busting rocks” for low-level offenses.

So how is Jobs Not Jails building and demonstrating this groundswell of public opinion? For one, they are collecting signatures on a petition, with a goal of 50,000 signatures by April 26.  These petitions will be wrapped around the State House in Boston like an art installation, letting legislators know that they need not be afraid to be smart about criminal justice policy or about job creation.  

The rally planned for the Boston Common on April 26, 2014 is of unprecedented scale: 10,000 Massachusetts voters speaking with one voice, demanding Jobs Not Jails! The target number 10,000 is significant:

  • It is a huge challenge (the CORI rally in 2008 brought some 3,000 people to the Common)
  • It is symbolic: it represents the 10,000 prison units that the Patrick administration expects to have to build unless reforms are enacted
  • Each rally participant will wear a prisoner's number: there are approximately 10,000 people incarcerated in the state prisons
  • To truly demonstrate effective support for reform, the rally participants have to be reasonably representative of the Massachusetts population: those both directly and indirectly affected by mass incarceration policies and practices [the Massachusetts 18+ population: 5.2 million; 4.2 million white; 300,000 black; 450,000 hispanic; 250,000 other]

For more details on the Jobs NOT Jails campaign, please visit the website: www.jobsnotjails.org.  Download a rally flyer here.

Bus Transportation

There will be buses leaving from Springfield, Northampton, Fitchburg, Worcester, Lynn and Brockton that will arrive in time for the rally. A partial schedule is below.  If you would like a seat on the bus, please contact Laura Wagner: Ljwags@comcast.net 

Springfield
2 buses depart Northgate Plaza at 11:00

Greenfield-Holyoke
Departs: 68 Federal Street “The Recover Project”, Greenfield at 10:30
Departs: K-Mart Plaza, Rt. 5, Holyoke at 11:00

Amherst-Northampton
Departs Amherst (Haigis Mall bus stop) at 2 Conz St #2b at 10:30
Departs 2 Conz St #2b, Northampton (AFSC Office) at 11:00

Endorsed by the Innocence Commission Task Team of the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ

Sunday - April 27, 2014
Antonette DiPina ~ Installation

A LETTER MISSIVE

 

Greetings to the churches and ministers of the Central Association

You are hereby invited to attend a


Service of Installation for

 

Rev. Antonette DiPina

 

on Sunday, April 27, 2014
at 2:00 PM to be held at


Rockdale Congregational Church
46 Fowler Road, Northbridge
(508) 234-8484

 

Antonette has been called as Pastor
to Rockdale Congregational Church

 


Those attending should be aware that an offering may be received during the service to benefit the Central Association Scholarship Fund.


Wishing you Grace, Mercy, and Peace.


The Rev. Richard F. Jones, Moderator
The Rev. Doreen Oughton, Vice-Moderator
Board of Directors of the Central Association
 

Classifieds
Friday - April 18, 2014
Choir Director - Mattapoisett
Choir Director sought for Mattapoisett Congregational Church, Mattapoisett, MA.  Part-time position, approximately 10 hours per week, to begin in September 2014. 
 
Our 275 year old church is located in the heart of Mattapoisett village in the South Coast region.  The church is an active and growing community of faith with a vibrant music program that includes the adult choir, junior choir, bell choir, worship band, and special music.  The choir directors responsibilities include directing the adult choir, working closely with the pastor and organist to select choir anthems which supplement the sermon message and which are musically appropriate for the abilities of the adult choir, recruiting choir members, participating on the Music Committee, maintaining the music library, and other supporting activities.   The choir director is supervised and evaluated annually by the Music Committee together with the pastor; salary is determined by the Finance Committee.  For more information about the church please visit our websitemattapoisettcongregationalchurch.org/
 
To apply, please submit your resume and salary requirements to our search committee by email tomattcong@verizon.net or by mail to Choir Director Search Committee, Mattapoisett Congregational Church, 27 Church Street, Mattapoisett, MA 02739.  The application deadline is April 30, 2014.
Thursday - April 17, 2014
Associate Minister of Children's and Youth Ministry - Topsfield

Provide leadership and oversight for all programs and activities involving children (prek-6) and middle school/high school youth (grades 7-12) including:  Church School program administration; Faithworks program administration;  planning and organization of all service and outreach activities involving youth;  planning and coordination of annual Learning and Serving trip;  participation in worship services, including preaching and administering of sacraments and involvement of children and youth;  recruitment and management of  lay volunteers;  mentoring and guidance of children and youth in support of their faith exploration.

Wednesday - April 16, 2014
Children & Youth Ministry Co-Coordinator - Wellesley

The Wellesley Hills Congregational Church (WHCC) is a Christian community of faith with committed ordained and lay leadership, vibrant educational programs for all ages, a rich music program, and active outreach.  Located about 10 miles west of the city of Boston in the suburb of Wellesley, MA, our open and affirming congregation welcomes all comers into fellowship.  Leadership in our church is characterized as an active partnership between our multi-clergy staff, non-clerical staff, and many faithful lay leaders, with an emphasis on cooperation and collaboration. 

The WHCC is seeking candidates for the role of Children & Youth Ministry Coordinator. This person will join two current staff members, the Youth Ministry Coordinator and the Childrens Ministry Coordinator, to work as a team in implementing the program of Childrens and Youth Ministry activities for the 2014-15 program year. 
 
This person will work approximately 20 hours per week from late August 2014 through June 2015. This position is not an ordainable call.  Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume to CYMC@hillschurch.org no later than May 16, 2014.

 

Wednesday - April 16, 2014
Executive Director - Seafarer's Friend

Seafarer's Friend is seeking a dynamic Executive Director to lead change. Individual will provide leadership, strategic planning, team-building, financial management, and serve as public face of a faith-based agency. Supervise chaplains, staff, and volunteers in maritime industrial setting. Develop relationships with the maritime community, and government to promote seafarer's welfare. Identify, build, and manage relationships with donors. Lead key fundraising events, and write grant proposals. Responsible for all budgeting, bookkeeping, purchasing, and payroll. Responsible for marketing organization in various media including newsletters, website, and other promotional material.

To apply submit a cover letter and resume to: seafarersfriend1827@outlook.com

 

Thursday - April 10, 2014
Director of Youth and Children's Ministries - Newton

 

Description: Director of Youth and Childrens Ministries, Union Church in Waban

Part-time: 20 hrs/week; August 15 through June 30th with summers off.
Vacation:  20 hrs/year within work calendar.  
Work schedule:  Sundays (up to 7hrs when necessary), required weekly Pastor and staff meetings and monthly Christian Education Committee meetings.  Flexible schedule for balance of hours each week. 
 
Overview:  The Director of Youth and Children's Ministries reports to the Pastor and Christian Education Committee and is directly supervised by the Pastor.  The Director is responsible for educational programming that:
  • nourishes the spiritual formation of our children and youth
  • teaches Scripture and the Christian tradition
  • provides opportunities for caring fellowship
  • includes outreach and mission projects
Skills/Qualifications: 
  • Commitment to the child-cherishing philosophy of the Union Church in Waban.
  • Willingness and ability to serve in response to the needs of this church.
  • A knowledge of, or foundation in, the Christian religion and an openness and appreciation of religious, racial, social and economic diversity. 
  • Strong communication and organizational skills.
  • Leadership abilities and competence in interpersonal relationships.
  • Ability to function as part of a team ministry with responsibility to the Pastor and the CE committee.
  • Interest in self improvement and continuing education.
  • Confidentiality and sensitivity to Church community and family matters.
  • A love of church and a faith filled life.
Compensation:  between $17,000-18,400 depending on experience.

 

Thursday - April 10, 2014
Sexton position open - Bridgewater

Central Square Congregational Church, UCC in Bridgewater, MA is seeking a part-time (15 hours a week) Sexton.  We are looking for someone with excellent communication skills, knowledge of cleaning "green", someone who can be nurturing and attentive to our much-used building.  We have a fun staff and the hours are fairly flexible.  Send your resume, cover letter, and list of three references to: csccpastor@hotmail.com.

Obituaries
Wednesday - April 9, 2014
Robert Ripley

The Rev. Robert Ripley ("Rip") passed away on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 and is survived by his wife Connie, their children and grandchildren.  Rip was the beloved pastor of First Congregational Church of Braintree for over 40 years, retiring from the position in 2001.  His legacy is one rich in Christian faith and service, a legacy in which First Church proudly stands. 

Rip had a heart for and deep call to youth ministry and established First Church as a primary member in the South Shore Congregational Youth Conference, a summer camp program for South Shore youth that he helped to found in 1958.  Fifty-six years later, the South Shore Congregational Youth Conference supports a camp of over 400 campers and 80 staff for a week in August on Lake Ossipee, New Hampshire.  It's motto, "A Vacation with a Purpose," holds true for all who participate, providing sacred space for meaning and connection with one another and with God for each and every camper, staff and clergy that attend.  Rip's ministry positively affected the lives of countless youth and members of First Church's congregation over the years. 
 
 
The VISITING HOURS will be held at McDonald Funeral Home
in South Weymouth, 809 Main Street, South Weymouth on
Sunday, April 13th from 2:00-6:00pm.

The FUNERAL SERVICE will be at First Congregational Church on
Monday, April 14th at 10:00am with burial to follow at Milton Cemetery.

 

Friday - March 7, 2014
Emil Charles Beck

The Rev. Emil Charles Beck, of Needham, died on March 7, 2014.  Emil is the beloved husband of the late Betty May (Preston) Beck, father of Charles Beck of Shrewsbury and James Beck of Needham.

Rev. Beck received his Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in 1951.  He is a retired pastor of the Union Church in Waban.  He was active in the leadership of the Board of Ministerial Aid in Massachusetts and Honorary Trustee Emeritus of Andover Newton Theological School.  He is author of My Journey into the Trinity.  Rev. Beck enjoyed summers with his family on the First Connecticut Lake in Pittsburgh, NH.

The funeral service for Rev. Beck will be on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, 207 Washington Street, Wellesley HIlls, MA at 10:00AM.  Interment will follow at Needham Cemetery.
 
In lieu of flowers donations in memory of Emil C. Beck may be made to Farnum Memorial Church c/o Norma Covill, Pittsburgh NH, 03592.

For more information go to:  http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?n=emil-charles-beck&pid=170099572&fhid=15270#sthash.k6bwJMPi.dpuf

Monday - January 27, 2014
Leroy Nelson Hastings, Jr.

The Rev. Mr. Leroy (Roy) Nelson Hastings, Jr. died on January 27, 2014 in Derby, Vermont.  Roy was born in Palmer, Massachusetts in 1921.  He went to Worcester public schools, graduated from Clark University in 1943 and earned his masters from Hartford Theological Seminary in 1951.

Roy was called to many places, and spent 14 years at First Congregational Church in Whitman, MA.

To read more about Roy, please follow the link:  http://caledonianrecord.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=144&ArticleID=106133

There was a memorial service at the Brownington Congregational Church in Brownington Village, VT on Saturday, February 1, 2014.

It is the wish of the deceased and his family that contributions be made to the Brownington Congregational Church UCC for the church building fund.

Tuesday - January 14, 2014
William Engels Wimer III

The Rev. Mr. William E. Wimer III passed away on January 14, 2014. The Rev. Wimer is survived by his wife Alice, whom he met when they were both students at Yale Divinity School in 1942.  He was ordained as a minister in 1945 in what later became the United Church of Christ. The Rev. Wimer served at Immanuel Congregational Church in Beverly, Massachusetts, as well as churches in Rhode Island, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and England.  From 1963-1981, he was the Director of the Office of Audio Visuals for the Stewardship Council of the UCC. The Rev. Wimer is also survived by his three children, Allan Wimer (wife Robin Weiss) of Key West, FL, William Wimer IV of West Yarmouth, MA and Alice Wimer Erickson (husband Ken Erickson) of Gloucester, MA, in addition to grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held at South Church in Andover, 41 Central Street, Andover, MA on Saturday, January 18, 2014.

To read more about the Rev. Mr. William E. Wilmer III please go to:  http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=169118089

 

Thursday - August 22, 2013
Frederick Russell Wilson, Sr.

 

The Rev. Mr. Frederick  Russell Wilson, Sr., died on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, lovingly surrounded by much of his immediate family.

Fred was born on Aug. 17, 1927, in Tehran, Iran, the son of Presbyterian missionaries, Margaret Bussdicker Wilson and Ivan Otis Wilson.  He was a graduate of Maryville College, Maryville, Tenn., and of Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, N.J.  Fred married Elizabeth Jane Saint (Betty) Aug. 31, 1949, of Erie, Pa., and together they embarked on a lifetime of love and service to the Church. In 1950 Fred and Betty were called to Tabriz, Iran, as "fraternal workers" by the Presbyterian Church.  1955 to 1956 Fred moved his family to Princeton, N.J., for a year's furlough to finish his Th.M. at Princeton Theological Seminary.  Fred and Betty moved their family back to Iran in 1956 and continued their service as fraternal workers until 1960.  In 1960, Fred accepted a position with the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations (COEMAR) of the Presbyterian Church in Mass Communications Overseas. The family settled in Glen Rock, N.J., and Fred began the 26 years of commuting to 475 Riverside Drive, New York, N.Y., fondly called the "Godbox".  In connection with his overseas responsibilities, Fred traveled widely visiting centers of Presbyterian ecumenical work in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.  Fred served the Presbyterian Church as director for planning and research under COEMAR from 1967 to 1970; as the South Asia Liaison from 1970 to 1980; and as associate general director of the Program Agency from 1980 to 1986; and finally as director of the Program Agency until 1988. At the same time, from 1961 to 1974, Fred served the World Association for Christian Communication, first as treasurer and then as president.  Fred and Betty left New Jersey in 1988 to live in Geneva, Switzerland, for two years while Fred was administrator for the World Council of Churches' World Conference on Mission and Evangelism held in San Antonio, Texas.

Dec. 2, 1989, Fred and Betty Wilson found their way home to 105 North Leverett Rd., Leverett, MA, where they have lived ever since.  In November 1994, Fred was called by the First Congregational Church of Leverett to be their settled pastor and served the congregation until October 2004.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Aug. 31, at 10 a.m. at the First Congregational Church of Leverett with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515; www.cwsglobal.org.

To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read further, go to www.gazettenet.com/obituaries.

 

Sunday - August 11, 2013
Margaret W. Crockett

The Dr. Rev. Margaret W. Crockett passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 11th, 2013.  She was the beloved wife of the late James U. Crockett and the late Frederick E. Dickerman.

Born in Dallas, Texas she was the daughter of the late George B. and Margaret Ellen (Schultz) Williams.  Raised and educated in Houston she graduated from San Jacinto High School at the age of 16.  She graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas, Phi Beta Kappa.
 
In 1943 Margaret moved to San Francisco with her husband Jim while he served in the Pacific Theater during World War II.  Upon his return from active duty they moved to Concord, MA.  After raising their four children and working with Jim in his horticultural publishing business, she entered Harvard Divinity School while husband Jim was busy filming Crockett’s Victory Garden for PBS.  Margaret graduated from Harvard with a Master of Divinity where she was the recipient of the Billings Prize for Preaching.  She went on to receive her Doctorate in Theology from Andover Newton Theological School.  Following the death of her husband Jim, she served as pastor of Edwards Church in Framingham for 15 years.  In 1988 she married Frederick E. Dickerman, who died in 2000.
 
Upon her retirement she joined the staff at the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord as a part-time Pastoral Care Associate, a role that fed her passion for being with and caring for people.  She often visited shut-ins and convalescents, administered counseling and participated in worship services.  Margaret also facilitated a weekly prayer group and administered sacraments.  Her devoted ministry involved her presence to others at times of loss – loss of friends, family members, sight, hearing, mobility or independence.  Among her most meaningful times of presence occurred when someone went through the ultimate experience of giving up life itself. 
 
As an Associate Pastor at the Trinitarian Congregational Church she offered her presence during times of prayer, bible study, worship, retreat, counseling, and visitation.  She was always present to those during their times of need, rejoicing, crises, boredom, depression, illness, pain, bereavement and loneliness.  Her love, devotion and kindness will be missed by many within the community.
 
She is survived by her children, Carol E. Crockett, Robert B. Crockett, Jean E. Crockett and Mary M. Crockett.  She is also survived by her grandchildren Stacy Pigott Slack, David C. Pigott, Laurel Crockett Rector, Rigel E. Crockett, Wesley J. Ritchie, Haley J. Ritchie and Marnie M. Ritchie and her great-grandchildren Mason Slack, Miranda Slack, Luke Rector, London Pigott and Zella Crockett.  She was also the sister-in law of Bernice Williams Judy of Texas and sister of the late George B. Williams Jr.
 
A Memorial Service celebrating Margaret’s life will be held on Friday, Aug. 16 at 2:00 pm in the Trinitarian Congregational Church, 54 Walden St., Concord.  Relatives and friends are kindly invited.  Internment was private in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord.
 
Gifts in her name may be made to the Jim Crockett Fund, c/o US Trust Co., 100 Westminster St., Providence, RI 02903 or the Trinitarian Congregational Church, 54 Walden St., Concord, MA 01742. 
 
For more information: www.concordfuneral.com
 

 

Transitions
Thursday - April 10, 2014
King, Elizabeth Ann
leaving The Plymouth Church in Framingham #1750 as Interim Pastor
Thursday - April 10, 2014
Leighninger, Janet
called to Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale #4540 as Pastor
Thursday - April 10, 2014
Morisse, Gregory R.
called to Plymouth Church in Framingham #1750 as Pastor
Thursday - April 10, 2014
Weekley, W. Keith
leaving Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale #4540 as Interim Pastor
Tuesday - April 1, 2014
Vetter, Sarah
Ordained by the Pilgrim Association at Old South Union Church , Weymouth
Tuesday - April 1, 2014
Zachry, John
retired from Central Congregational Church, Chelmsford #1090 as Pastor