To: Treasurers of MACUCC Churches
All contributions, including OCWM and Fellowship Dues, are due December 31, 2013. A grace period will again be observed. In order for your church to be credited for their 2013 giving, the following gifts must be received no later than January 16, 2014:
Please send all OCWM and mission gifts to:
Massachusetts Conference, UCC
One Badger Road
Framingham, MA 01702-5517
Or make your OCWM gifts electronically through our website, following this link.
Fellowship Dues must be sent to your Association Treasurer. To allow sufficient time to receive, process, and forward the Conference portion, please mail to the Association Treasurer no later than January 9, 2014. Click here to learn more about Fellowship Dues, in a downloadable flyer.
If you have any questions, please call Accounting Manager Debby Dionne at 508-875-5233 (Ext. 238) or email at email@example.com.
Gifts received after January 16, 2014 will be credited to 2014. Please mail checks early to ensure January 16 delivery.
A federal district court in Wisconsin has made a ruling regarding the tax-free status of housing allowances for clergy which could eventually affect clergy and congregations here in Massachusetts.
More information can be found at:
Wisconsin court ruling could impact compensation packages for UCC ministers
ucc.org, Nov. 25, 2013
Five Takeaways from Friday's Housing Allowance Ruling
Christianity Today, Nov. 25, 2013
The Conference today (Nov. 1) launched its search for an Associate Conference Minister with regional responsibility in the Central and Hampshire Associations.
The post is currently filled on an acting basis by The Rev. Ms. Kelly Gallagher, who may apply for the permanent position. Gallagher took over the role this summer following the retirement of The Rev. Dr. Peter Wells.
Exodus 16:1-3; Matthew 10:5-16
By Tiffany Vail
Associate for Communication
The Massachusetts Conference Board of Directors is asking churches to join them in making a bold move – replacing a funding system that dates back more than 150 years with something brand new.
The Board hopes to ask Annual Meeting voters next June to replace the current dual-stream system – in which churches are asked to pay a per-member amount for Fellowship Dues and to also make proportionate contributions to Our Churches Wider Mission Basic Support – with a single stream system called United Church Mission.
Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship Andy Gustafson says the current system is difficult to understand and explain, especially for those with no background in the denomination. And he said it is largely based on a membership model that is no longer an accurate measure of what is going on in our churches.
“Sociologists tell us that membership is a less and less relevant concept in our society, and that our younger generations are not ‘joiners,’” Gustafson said. “Membership in our churches has declined by 30% over the past 15 years, but worship attendance has declined by only 3% and giving to our churches has increased. Membership does not accurately reflect the health of our churches.”
The new system would instead be based on proportionate giving – asking churches to give a percentage of their pledges and offerings to the wider church. Such a system would be fair to all congregations of varying socio-economic situations, and would be consistent with church teachings.
“Inviting giving as a percentage of income has been taught as the fair and appropriate way of giving as individuals, and should apply to local church support of the wider church giving as well,” Gustafson said.
Under the new program, churches would be asked to aspire toward a goal of giving 10% of their pledges and offerings to United Church Mission. The current average is 7 percent, and right now 30 churches given 10 percent or more.
Making this change will not be without challenges. For many churches, it will mean changing their own budgets because they may now have Basic Support coming from one part of the budget and Fellowship Dues from another. For those that ask their members to pay their dues, it will mean changing their approach.
And, as Gustafson says, “any change in funding structure carries some risk of reduced funding.”
Two major studies of the Conference funding system conducted over the past 20 years found many problems with the system while also finding it too risky to make changes.
But, delving into the issue again after questions were raised at the Annual Meeting in 2010, the Board concluded that it is a risk worth taking.
“As we got to looking at declining membership, it only made sense to start doing something about it in the very near future,” said Conference Treasurer Rick Lawrence.
“To stay with the current membership-based system would be to leave those who will come after us in a completely untenable situation,” said Associate Conference Minister Dawn Hammond. “Membership is dropping fast; church participation is not. To continue to rely on membership as a way to fund our common ministries would be to assure the rapid dwindling of our ability to foster church vitality and manifest God’s love and justice together.”
A committee of the Board spent over a year on the issue, reviewing alternatives, talking and praying over it, consulting with national staff and drafting several possible plans. The full Board then brought an initial draft proposal to a hearing at the 2012 Annual Meeting and to four focus group sessions with leaders from 18 churches. The initial proposal was substantially revised in response to that feedback, and a new draft was brought up for discussion again at the Annual Meeting in 2013.
“It may seem like we’re doing this quickly, but this has been going on for several years,” Lawrence said, adding that the Board is anxious to educate local churches about it and get their feedback.
“We want to make sure everyone has input, that the process we’ve gone through is transparent, that the proposal is easy to understand, and that we have buy in from the churches,” he said.
Many opportunities to learn about United Church Mission will be available over the coming months, including presentations at Association meetings, online resources and stewardship breakfasts (including one on Nov. 9 at the Congregational Church of Needham).
Right now, two narrated slideshows and detailed information on United Church Mission is available at macucc.org/unitedchurchmission. There is also a survey available where readers are asked to give their feedback on the plan.
If the proposal is approved at the 2014 Annual Meeting, the Board of Directors will seek commitments from as many churches as possible to maintain or increase their overall level of giving to the Conference from 2014 to 2015.
The Annual Meeting Business Committee has announced that the deadline for submitting resolutions to the 215th Annual Meeting is Feb. 13, 2014.
Resolutions may be related to procedure, courtesy, structure and organization, or issues of conviction. Resolutions adopted by an Annual Meeting are formal expressions of that particular body. The Annual Meeting may speak to the churches of the Massachusetts Conference, to the wider church, the government, or to society. It does not speak for the churches of the Massachusetts Conference.
Resolutions may be brought to the Annual Meeting by:
Download the Standing Rules as they relate to Resolutions for complete information.
Resolutions may be submitted to the Business Committee through Dawn Hammond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 215th Annual Meeting is being held June 13 - 14, 2014, at the Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center. The theme of this year's meeting, inspired by John 14:12; is “Greater Works than These.”
The Keynote Speaker will be Yvette Flunder, Founder and Senior Pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco. Flunder founded the City of Refuge UCC in 1991 in order to unite a gospel ministry with a social ministry. City of Refuge is a thriving inner-city congregation that celebrates the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ. Preaching a message of action, the church has experienced steady numerical and spiritual growth. In June 2003, Bishop Flunder was consecrated Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship, a multi-denominational fellowship of 110 primarily African American Christian leaders and laity representing 56 churches and faith-based organizations from all parts of the United States Mexico and Africa.
Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
My Story, by Tina (download pdf version here)
As Christmas fast approaches, there are homeless youth in our state facing the holiday without a place to call home. Although each of their stories are different, these youth have one common thread, that is not one of them would ever have imagined they would be homeless this Christmas.
My name is Tina. I know firsthand how it feels to be homeless for the holidays. At age 13, by no mistake of my own, my life changed forever. Growing up in a home where both my parents battled with addiction, my father died of an overdose and shortly after, my mother was sent to prison. From that moment on I became a homeless unaccompanied youth.
At first I was shuffled from family member to family member, sleeping on their couches – never being able to stay too long at any one of their homes. I didn't have much of a choice but to grow up fast as a child. The influence of drugs, alcohol abuse and mental instability can put a toll on anyone, especially someone who has found themselves constantly fighting a fight against the world. I learned to survive very quickly. With no parent or formal guardian and with no real home life, I miraculously finished high school magna cum laude. School became the one place I found refuge from the chaos of my life.
In the late summer after graduating from high school, I moved to Massachusetts to attend Salem State University. During the school year I lived in student housing, but come summer break I was once again facing homelessness. Desperate to succeed, I had to learn the ins and outs of Massachusetts and the different programs that might be able to help me. With little success I discovered that there were not many homelessness programs geared for homeless youth – or at least not any places for drug free and hard working homeless students. I reached out to agencies searching for solutions and plausible options and there weren't many. They all seemed to lead to a solution no one wants to accept: A homeless shelter. It was scary to even think that my independence only led me to a shelter.
Gratefully since moving to Massachusetts, I began building a relationship with my parent’s family. Luckily, I had the opportunity to move in with my 90 year old grandfather. I am one of the fortunate ones but sadly approximately 6,000 young adults in Massachusetts* don’t have a place to go to other than the streets. Far too many young adults are sleeping in alleys and abandoned buildings. Some are forced into the sex trade just to get off the streets, or engage in survival sex; even more turn to alcohol and drugs to dull the pain.
I can only speak for myself, as I have overcome homelessness and adversity. But I'm sure there are many who cry themselves to sleep longing for a way out of their nightmare. That is why I have joined the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless in their fight to end youth homelessness through the passage of House Bill 135: “An Act Providing Housing and Support Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth”. To learn more about this bill, please click here. The passage of this important legislation would make it possible for thousands of youth faced with nowhere to go to have a place to turn. The bill would make it possible for the creation of supportive housing and case management for at risk or homeless youth throughout out the state.
In the time that it took you to read this letter, you can make an impact by the simple act of clicking on this link - www.mahomeless.org - that will bring you to the Coalition’s website where you can take action by filling out an online letter to your State Senator and Representative.
Your legislative representatives at the State House need to hear from you that you support “An Act Providing Housing and Support Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth”, House Bill 135. The passage of this bill will ensure that by next Christmas there will be hope for at-risk and homeless youth in Massachusetts.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and more importantly taking action. If you are interested in learning more about becoming involved in the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Campaign and in advocating for young people experiencing homelessness, please get in touch with Exa, the Community Organizer/Legislative Advocacy at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless at email@example.com.
*According to the Department of Secondary Education of Massachusetts
The mission of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless is to eradicate homelessness from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Our work as a coalition to find common ground and to seek essential solutions has enabled us to fulfill our role as an organizer, coordinator and resource. At the same time, our organizational philosophy has compelled us to take action, rather than merely observe, react, or study. We seek to fulfill our mission as a voice with people experiencing homelessness in their struggle for decent housing, adequate income and accessible services. To learn more please visit our website at www.mahomeless.org.
Community Organizer/Legislative Advocate
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Endorsed by the Homelessness Ministry Team and the Justice and Witness Council of the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
Are you someone who loves gadgets? Do you like making videos, running slideshows, fine-tuning microphones? Then the Massachusetts Conference needs you!
Local church leaders across the Conference have been asking us to increase our use of technology. They want recordings – or maybe live streaming – of workshops, seminars, Super Saturdays and Annual Meetings. They want webinars for when they can’t attend events and they want well done and well run media presentations when they can.
The Conference has now made an initial investment in equipment to move us forward in taking on this challenge. But what we need is the talent and the time of those in the pews who know how to use it. We need an MACUCC AV Team.
If this is of interest to you or someone in your church – would you please contact me? I won’t ask you to come to monthly meetings or to make a long-term commitment. But I might ask you to record a seminar. Or conduct some one-on-one interviews. Or run a slideshow or recording at a gathering. No matter what your particular interst or skills, I will definitely ask you to help me build a team that will use technology to strengthen connections across the Conference for everyone, even when we can’t be together in one place.
Please, send information about yourself – or someone else who would be good on this team – to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
This week Andover Newton Theological School held a conference with a panel of pastors who had been through the trauma of disaster, both human caused and natural. It reinforced the need for our Conferences and churches to be prepared to respond to the needs of the community and congregation when disaster strikes. That point has been brought home as we have seen the images from the outbreak of tornadoes this past weekend in the Midwest as well as the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.
The work of the Disaster Resource Team is to prepare our churches, specialized ministries, pastors and communities to respond with resilience when disasters come.
At our last gathering of the Disaster Resource Team we began to develop some goals and strategies for the coming year. I have listed those thoughts below. Based on the responses to our doodle poll our next meeting of everyone interested in the work of Disaster Resource Ministries is invited to come to Framingham on Thursday, January 9, from 5-8 p.m.
Our meeting for the evening will include:
• Reviewing changes to the conference disaster response protocol
• Reviewing the goals and assigning tasks and strategies.
Here are our goals:
1. To develop stronger and more urgent resources and education for churches based on the insights that a) churches are a crucial sacred space that anchors and stabilizes the community in the midst of a disaster, b) the changing landscape of ministry means many churches may cease to exist or lack the resources to be that spiritual grounding and may not even be aware of the importance of their role and c) disasters are going to happen with increased frequency and intensity and we are not prepared or aware for that.
2. Continue to tighten and fine tune our Conference disaster response protocol. We keep getting new insights, experiences and ideas around this. Yesterday’s workshop at ANTS has already added another step
3. Develop a step by step manual to guide pastors when their church/community is struck by a disaster (or to guide conference staff and representatives to coach the local pastor). This will also include support to our specialized ministries
4. Continue to research and develop disaster related resources for distribution to churches and ministries and for posting on our website around all aspects of disaster ministry
5. Explore and develop partnerships and relationships with government, nonprofit and faith based disaster response organizations so that we can respond to disasters more collaboratively and fluidly (Mass VOAD – Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disasters is meant to be the group that facilitates this) (This will also include professional chaplaincy organizations)
6. Develop the resources within our MACUCC churches and specialized ministries so they can more quickly and fluidly assist each other in times of disaster
Here are some suggested strategies:
• Developing a checklist for churches and specialized ministries to have in preparation for impending disasters
• Developing guidelines and checklists for follow up with clergy in churches and specialized ministries within the impacted areas.
• Updating the MACUCC Disaster Resource webpages with links and resources (including Light Our Way for liturgies and spiritual care guidance in the aftermath of disasters)
• Developing emails/blogs that can be sent out each season with suggestions and guidance for seasonally predictable disasters (Winter – Blizzards, Spring - floods and tornadoes, Summer – Hurricane, Fall – Miscellaneous)
• Create a checklist of likely disaster response needs in the short term and long term following disasters and the agencies/faith communities/non-profits who are typically able to provide for those needs (eg Southern Baptist chainsaw teams)
• Explore bringing a CISM basic course to the MACUCC for clergy (and laity)
• Developing a list of MACUCC churches (and church members) who could respond immediately to needs with things like food, power generators, necessities, etc
• Develop a list of chaplains (particularly those serving in hospital settings and those with trauma remediation training) who can be called upon to assist in times of disaster
• Consider the development of webinars for disaster preparations for churches and individuals.
We hope you can join us. Please RSVP to Karen Methot at email@example.com to indicate if you can come.
For the Disaster Resource Team
Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
A little over a week ago, typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. Millions of people have been displaced and the projected death toll is in the thousands. There are villages and regions that still remain unreachable.
Two days ago, more than a dozen devastating tornados plowed through numerous states in the Midwest . Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and several deaths have been reported.
Our partner churches in the Philippines and UCC churches in the Midwestern US are working in the midst of chaos to bring comfort and assistance. And as we know from our own tornado experience in Monson, their work will continue for the long haul throughout the months and years of recovery. Your past giving to One Great Hour of Sharing is what allows the UCC to respond immediately to these disasters. However, your solidarity expressed in prayers and generosity will allow these churches to continue to respond to these tragedies in the months ahead.
If your congregation has already taken a collection to help with the Typhoon Haiyan victims – thank you! Your generosity will help the UCC to meet our goal of raising $250,000 in response to Typhoon Haiyan. Your church – and individuals – can contribute here: http://www.ucc.org/disaster/typhoon-haiyan/ If you are able to take a collection for the communities in the Midwest which have been ravaged, please do so. We will post (on www.macucc.org ) where those contributions can be sent as soon as we have that information. Remember that because our support is given through OCWM, 100% of these donations go directly into services and assistance.
Although disaster seems to come after disaster, and we may feel the burden of continued response, we do well to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, when he wrote, "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9 NRSV). Giving generously to the urgent needs of the world is what we are called to do.
And there is something else we are called to do: we are called to seek systemic change. Climate scientists tell us that what these storms have in common is that they are part of a world-wide increase in frequency and severity of storms – something that climate change is accelerating. The Massachusetts Conference and our denomination are the leaders in this witness. Join with those churches already engaged in learning about and responding to climate change.
Thank you for all the support and help you are providing.
For the Disaster Resource Team:
Rev. Jim Tilbe and Rev. Don Remick (MACUCC Disaster Coordinators)
Rev. Dr. Jim Antal (MACUCC Minister and President)
Wondering what to get for your Aunt Flora who has everything? Tired of buying gifts that don't seem to mean anything? Want to make a positive difference in the world? Then come to the Edwards Church Alternative Gifts Fair, featuring Gifts with a Heart: Fair Trade Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate, Handicrafts from Artists' Coops around the world, Gift to support NEADS (Assistance Dogs), Heifer Project, and more..
THIRD ANNUAL CHRISTMAS TEA
Wonderful HoldiayTradition for the whole family
First Sitting 11:30
Second Sitting 1:00
Delicious home made tea sandwiches and desserts
Reserve tickets at 781-447-5557 or 781-447-4052
Also featurng Gift Baskets and Special Holiday Shopping
Alternative Christmas Fair with vendors selling crafts and food to benefit many different non-profit groups and causes, including Heifer Project International, Kids4Peace, Palestinian embroidery and olive oil, Equal Exchange goods, Nepalese women's organization, etc.
First Congregational Church in Stoneham will present its annual Christmas Cantata on Sunday, December 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. A large choir of singers and instrumentalists will present in song and narration The Light of Christmas. Come to soothe your spirits and remind yourself why this season is holy. Following the hour-long concert there will be a reception in fellowship hall. This event is free and open to the public. Please join us!
The Old South Union Congregational Church, of Weymouth, Mass., is seeking a part-time Director of Music (1012 hours per week) to oversee organ and choral music for worship services and special occasions. Old South is a large, vibrant and growing church on the South Shore with a history of exceptional organ and choir music of many styles and is seeking a candidate with prior experience as Music Director. The candidate should have knowledge of choral and organ literature, and the ability to play the organ and piano at an advanced level. The senior choir numbers 30-40 and the instrument is an Austin organ, Opus 2739 with 3 manuals, 31 ranks and antiphonal stops.
The primary responsibilities of this position are:
1. Coordinates organ and choral music appropriate to the liturgical calendar for performance at weekly and additional services.
2. Direct and play at weekly worship services.
3. Coordinate and oversee rehearsals, direct and accompany the Senior Choir and summer soloists.
4. Provide leadership and support for all aspects of music at the church, including supporting the Youth Choir Director and the choir section leaders.
The salary will be commensurate with the candidates education and experience.
FREE to any Massachusetts Conference church: Quickset Tripod model number 4-72802-8. This is a heavy duty, old tripod with wheels that would be good for video. Available at the Massachusetts Conference office in Framingham.
The Pilgrim Church of Duxbury, U.C.C. is actively recruiting candidates for the Music Director/ Music Minister opening at the Church. This is a salaried, part-time position- 20 hours a week. The Music Director will supervise and coordinate all musical activities within the Church including directing the Senior Choir and the oversight of an experienced Organist, acting Junior Choir Director, and Bell Choir already in place. For more information and application details, please contact The Pilgrim Church of Duxbury, P.O. Box 186, Duxbury, MA 02331, attention: Charles Bradford, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Sunday School Superintendent
Purpose: To oversee and support the childrens educational programming at Second Congregational Church, spanning from Nursery through Middle School+-, including its policies, programs, resources, and volunteer personnel.
Recruit and support teachers, in conjunction with the Board of Christian Education.
Provide training for volunteer teachers and assistants.
Arrive early for every Sunday session to ensure that the classrooms are in order and that the teachers, lesson plans, supplies, and equipment are ready.
Coordinate special educational programs for children such as Bible Basics and Joyful Feast.
Welcome new students (and their families), guide them to the appropriate class, and serve as an ambassador of the educational ministry of the church.
Attend worship until the children and teachers leave for their classes, and then float among classes, offering support as needed.
Regularly communicate with Sunday school volunteers and parents.
Communicate with and support the Nursery Coordinator.
Organize annual Sunday school registration and maintain attendance records. Share information with church secretary to keep church database up to date.
Use Church communication resources to keep the congregation informed about Christian Education and Sunday school programs.
Assist with planning, preparation and leadership for Childrens Sunday.
Plan, with the pastors guidance and in coordination with Youth Director, the Easter sunrise service with the Middle School youth during Sunday school.
Order curriculum material, supplies and equipment, in accordance with budget.
Ensure that the Sunday school programs follow safe church guidelines, including verifying that all Sunday school teachers have a CORI check.
Meet with the Board of Christian Education.
Attend regularly scheduled staff meetings and meetings with the pastor, and collaborate with church staff.
Review curriculum for Workshop Rotation and update any out of date materials.
Time Requirement: 10 hours per week, 44 weeks (mid-August-mid-June)
Supervised by: Pastor
Works in partnership with: Board of Christian Education
It is expected that the Sunday School Superintendent will pursue continuing education and collegial support from the many resources available, beginning with the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ program, Learning to Teach.
Come away for four days of exploring the coast of Maine, enjoying good fellowship, delicious home cooked meals (including a lobster bake on the beach!), and the glory of Gods creation.
Rejuvenate your spirit on board the Lewis R. French, a beautifully restored 1871 schooner. Each day will include a biblical theme with the opportunity for group reflection as well as individual time.
You can fill your day with reading, knitting, chatting or simply watching the stunning scenery as you catch glimpses of Maine wildlife. You can even give a hand on deck if you want to hoist the sails, furl the jib or take a hand at the helm.
Each day includes optional shore leave when (depending on the setting) there might be a chance to shop, hike, or sit on the beach.
Cost: $625, includes lodging on board and all meals
Contact: Rev. Sue Foster, email@example.com 860-928-7449
West Yarmouth Congregational Church United Church of Christ has approximately 100 used Pilgrim Hymnals available at no charge. If you are interested please contact Rev. Charles Soule at (508) 775-0891
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.
Rev. Ian J. Stewart, a former MACUCC minister, died peacefully on Thursday. Aug. 8, 2013 surrounded by family, while under hospice care in Portland, Maine. He was the father of Rev. Marc Stewart, Conference Minister of Montana-Northern Wyoming UCC Conference and Partnership. He also leaves behind his wife and two other sons.
Rev. Stewart had served churches in Gray, Maine (1968-1972), Boston Seaman's Friend Society (1972-1978), Banstead URC in Surrey UK (1979-1984) and Lakeville UCC in Massachusetts (1984-1998), and various interims in Maine. He graduated from Bangor Seminary in 1968. Prior to that time he had been a Master Mariner in the British Merchant Marines.
Rev. Stewart had a great faith and a gentle spirit. He will be missed by many for his gentle and calming presence.
A memorial service will take place at First Parish Church UCC in Saco, Maine on Saturday, September 7, at 11 a.m.
Mr. Warren Heckman, licensed lay minister with the Congregational Church of Mansfield died on July 29, 2013.
A service in celebration of Mr. Heckman's life and ministry was officiated by his daughter, the Rev. Linda Munore of Virginia on August 5th, 2013. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Arlene; two daughters, Patricia and Linda; four granchildren; and a host of dear friends.
For a more comprehensive obituary please visit: www.currentobituary.com/Memory.aspx
The Rev. Peter V. Marsden, 72, died peacefully in hospice care on Saturday, July 6, of complications from a stroke.