Because numerous members of the Massachusetts Conference Executive staff joined the staff at the same time, this summer is seeing a confluence of sabbatical times.
"We have a great staff that works well together, and we have come up with a schedule that assures adequate summer coverage while allowing staff to take the sabbatical and vacation time to which they are entitled," said Conference Minister and President Jim Antal.
Staff members will be off, as follows. In all cases, staff have arranged their calendars and commitments to allow for this time.
Coverage During General Synod, June 26 - July 4:
Jill Graham and Ellie Richardson will remain in the Massachusetts Conference and provide coverage while Jim Antal, Peter Wells, Andy Gustafson, Dawn Hammod and Don Remick are at General Synod.
Coverage for July and August:
For the month of July, Peter Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org) will serve as the Associate Conference Minister in charge. For the month of August, Jim Antal (email@example.com) will share coverage with Jill Graham (August 1-18) and Acting Associate Conference Minister Kelly Gallagher (August 19-31).
The Annual Meeting Planning Committee announced this week that Associate Conference Minister Peter Wells, who is retiring after having served on the staff for 11 years, will be honored at the 214th Annual Meeting in Sturbridge in June.
On Friday, June 14, Wells will preach at the closing worship service, which will include a liturgy of blessing and farewell. A reception in his honor will follow the worship service.
The committee is sending the following email to delegates and churches on Thursday, May 9:
"After 11 years of ministry with and among us, the Rev. Dr. Peter Wells will be retiring from his service as Association Conference Minister with our Conference on August 1st of 2013. Peter's vision and voice have helped heal, guide, and inspire pastors and churches across the Commonwealth, nation and globe. On Friday evening of our Annual Meeting Peter will offer his reflections and insights at our closing worship time. This worship will include a "Liturgy of Blessing and Farewell" to celebrate and recognize his impact on all of us. There will be a reception in Peter's honor following the worship service. We hope you will join us as we gather in recognition and appreciation of all Peter has accomplished among us."
Related article: Peter Wells announces plans to retire (March 22, 2013)
A number of Massachusetts Conference staff and local pastors have been writing reflections on the tragedy in Boston on Patriot's Day. Some of those are listed here:
The substance of our faith
|Providing light for this journey through darkness
Jim Antal, Conference Minister & President
Yesterday was a good beginning at Tikkun Olam – a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world" (or "healing the world"). The world is in need of deep repair – deep healing. April 19
|I Love to Tell the Story - 25 Times
Don Remick, Associate Conference Minister
Over the years I have worked in disaster long term recovery and with critical incident stress response teams. In the training I have learned a rule of thumb. It takes 25 times of telling the story to begin the healing. April 18
|Our hearts remain broken
Jim Antal, Conference Minister & President
Tragedy brings out caring and courage. But this remains a tragedy. And our hearts remain broken, while Jesus stands embracing the fallen, the wounded, the broken and the shocked. April 17
|Responding to the trauma with love
Elsa Marshall, Resource Center Director
Through us God will be with everyone who suffers, through even the deepest grief and loss such as that caused by this horrific attack during the Boston Marathon. Love is shared when we respond, pray, help, care. April 17
| Used for Good
Wendy Vander Hart, Associate Conference Minister
What is our work now? Our work is to bring as much good to this tragedy and thereby as much evidence of God in the midst of suffering, violence and pain, as possible. April 16
| Ministries Beyond the Walls
Don Remick, Associate Conference Minister
They are known as chaplains, spiritual companions, pastoral counselors, among other names. They are pastors beyond the walls.
| Someone Like Us
J. Mary Luti, Retired Andover Newton Theological School Professor
This time it’s Boston, but it has been elsewhere more times than we can count. It happened Monday at the Marathon in the midst of joy on a gorgeous day with people at their best, but it’s happened at other celebrations on other days. April 16
| Prayers for Bomb Victims and Boston
Jim Antal, Conference Minister & President
Jesus weeps… our hearts break… overwhelmed and in shock we grieve. Those who lost their lives, and those who are wounded, and their families and loved ones – we lift all of them in prayer. April 15
After the Marathon: We are OK. We are not OK. We will be OK
Reflections on the Boston Marathon Bombings
If you know of others, please send links to Tiffany Vail.
Clergy serving in every setting of the Massachusetts Conference have received an invitation to gather together for worship, prayer and an opportunity to share stories, perspectives and resources in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
The event will be held at Plymouth Church in Framingham on April 24 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM. An invitation to clergy was emailed Friday morning from Minister and President Jim Antal and the member of the MACUCC Disaster Resource Team, Don Remick, Jim Tilbe and Peter Wells.
"We are all keenly aware of the events and aftermath of the explosions at the Boston Marathon," said the invitation. "In our conversations with clergy over the last few days we have heard many stories. Some had family in the race or at the finish line, many had members of their church that were impacted, and everyone is seeking ways to minister in the midst of all the stories and emotions within them and around them."
Clergy planning to attend should RSVP to Patti Babcock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Days of Covenant will also include time for clergy to come together and reflect, grieve and offer mutual support. Those included:
The Pastoral Excellence Program has come a long way over the past ten years under the creative and wise leadership of Susan Dickerman and her team. In one of our many conversations, Sue humbly said, "we brought the program to where it is today. It has room to grow and expand beyond what we dreamed possible." It is a privilege to be in this place at this time as we begin a new era, standing on the solid foundation of what Sue and so man of you have created.
The PEP continues to make significant differences in the lives of clergy and their congregations. With Sue's inspiration, your continued thirst for excellence and God's grace, it will continue to grow and expand for another ten years and far beyond.
Rev. Ellie Richardson
Associate Conference Minister for Lay & Clergy Development
Bud and Jean Muller are deeply committed members of the Hingham Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, and have been for decades. The Mullers have a history of involvement in leadership roles in their local church, the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ (MACUCC), and at Andover Newton Theological School. And while they have long been committed to helping the United Church of Christ bring its vital ministries to the larger world, the MACUCC’s Pastoral Excellence Program struck a particular chord with them. For that reason, the Mullers made a generous personal gift to the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Endowment Campaign, and hosted a dinner in their home to encourage others to support the program as well.
Bud Muller noted that his perspective developed over his years of engagement with the church. “Both of us have been moderators in our church, and have served on multiple boards. When that involvement first started -- now almost forty years ago -- we began with work in youth ministry. And we recognized that younger pastors coming into the ministry need an avenue, a venue, where they can both learn and share their experiences, also struck as important and needing our support.”
“In addition,” Muller added, “we have felt tremendous respect for Jim Antal, Susan Dickerman and Andy Gustafson, and we hold them in very high regard. Susan Dickerman played a huge role in moving the Pastoral Excellence Program concept forward and was identified as a leader nationally for this work. Our support of this program honors her role.”
Bud Muller remembers, “Not only through my work in the Massachusetts Conference but also through [my wife] Jean’s involvement with Andover Newton Theological School, we have had an ongoing interest in helping establish systems that will produce good pastors. Pastors are in a unique position,” Muller observed, in needing to balance their relationships with their parishioners and the public…“and they carry a heavy load. So the concept of supporting people who have dedicated themselves to this field, and empowering them to support those who are entering the ministry, or who have encountered some difficulty in their ministry, strikes us as critically important.”
Muller, who works as an investment broker, reflected, “Churches are challenging organizations to serve: everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that goes for pastors as well. Some are great at preaching, some good at pastoral visits, and so on. Unlike corporations, churches don’t have the financial capability to provide staff that can support succession planning. Churches are not corporations, so supporting programs that allow pastors to build strength and resiliency is critically important.”
“If pastors are good at their jobs and have been exposed to a number of life situations, they are going to be better at serving the church. Developing skill sets in key areas through sharing is a key to success, and that is what the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Endowment Campaign is all about.”
As the 2,500th CWS Emergency Cleanup Bucket arrives today (May 7) in flood-ravaged Illinois, Church World Service is appealing urgently for people to replenish its rapidly dwindling supply. Heavy precipitation from early 2013 storms and floods has resulted in widespread and severe flooding in Illinois and other states.
“The CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets are giving hope and help to survivors,” said Barry Shade, CWS associate director for U.S.disaster response. “With needs assessment ongoing, CWS expects to respond to additional requests from Illinois and other states for buckets. When we do, we hope to be able to respond without delay.” Only about 2,600 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets remain in the agency’s warehouse in New Windsor, Md., Shade said.
A shipment of 1,008 Church World Service Emergency Cleanup Buckets is scheduled to reach Peoria, Ill., on Tuesday (May 7) for distribution to area households as flood waters recede from their properties. The DuPage County, Ill., Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management received and quickly distributed 500 at the end of April, and the Red Cross in Rolling Meadows, Ill., received 992 buckets for distribution on May 4.
Church World Service, a global humanitarian agency and sponsor of CROP Hunger Walks, emphasizes the importance of faith community involvement in long-term recovery from disaster. The agency enlists congregations in supplying tens of thousands of CWS Blankets, CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets and other CWS Kits for shipment to disaster survivors every year. In addition, it helps flood survivors access the material, emotional, spiritual and human resources they need to get back on their feet and go on with their lives by helping communities to start their own long-term recovery groups.
For CWS Emergency Cleanup Bucket contents and instructions, click here.
On May 15, the Senate Committee on Ways & Means (SWM) unveiled its fiscal year 2014 budget recommendations. Senators filed amendments to that budget by last Friday. We need your help!
Please call as soon as possible to ask your State Senator to co-sponsor two amendments and to show support for Amendment #309 and #247 by participating in the caucus and debate processes. Senators can sign on as co-sponsors by contacting Sen. Donnelly’s office (617-722-1432) until the start of the floor debate which begins Wednesday, May 22nd. Have the aide get back to you to let you know what action your State Senator plans to take on these amendments.
SUGGESTED SCRIPT: (Ask to speak to an aide if the Senator is not available).
Hello, my name is _______ and I live at___________. I am very concerned that since September 2012, approximately 240 families including more than 400 children have been forced to sleep in places “not meant for human habitation” before they were placed in emergency shelter. Therefore, I am asking Senator____ to co-sponsor Senator Donnelly’s Amendment #309 Senator Donnelly’s to Emergency Assistance Line Item 7004-0101 and Amendment #247 of Senators Donnelly and Spilka to RAFT Line Item 7004-9316. Please let me know what the Senator will do. I can be reached at (phone number). Thank you for taking my request into consideration to protect homeless families with children who are at imminent risk of having to stay in unsafe places not fit for humans (such as a car) before they can access emergency family shelter. Placing vulnerable families with children who have no place to go in a potentially harmful and dangerous situation has to change.
The House passed their budget in April WITHOUT this protective language requiring the Dept. of Housing and Community Development to place families experiencing homelessness in emergency shelter who are at imminent risk of having to stay in a place not meant for human habitation. So, now the Senate’s FY14 budget is our only hope to have the possibility of getting this measure into next year’s budget. Since September 2012, at least 240 families that we know of, including more than 400 children have been forced to sleep in places “not meant for human habitation” before they were placed in emergency shelter!
• Senator Donnelly’s Amendment #309 to Emergency Assistance Line Item 7004-0101
Senator Ken Donnelly of Arlington has filed Amendment #309 to require the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to presumptively place families into the Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter program if they provide credible proof that they otherwise would be forced to stay in place not meant for human habitation and that they otherwise would meet the EA eligibility criteria.
• Senator Donnelly and Senator Spilka’s Amendment #247 to Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Line Item 7004-9316
The Senate Ways & Means Budget proposes that $500,000 of RAFT funds “may” be used to provide these families shelter for up to seven days, while their eligibility for other programs is assessed. (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition or RAFT is a homelessness prevention program for low-income families). This is a good step in the right direction, but the language is NOT sufficient to ensure that children will, in fact, be sheltered before they have to sleep in unsafe places.
Senator Donnelly and Senator Karen Spilka of Ashland also have filed Amendment #247 to build upon Senate Ways and Means' plan to provide temporary accommodations to families experiencing homelessness. The amendment focuses on those families being turned away from the Emergency Assistance program because they have NOT YET stayed in a place not meant for human habitation.
The amendment mainly would require that DHCD promptly (Dept. of Housing & Community Development) refer these families to the RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition) providers when they are within 24 hours of having to stay in a place not meant for human habitation. The RAFT provider would then place this family in such temporary accommodations, while ensuring that Emergency Assistance (EA) eligible families still are served by the EA program. It would also require DHCD to notify the Legislature 60 days before the allotted funds are anticipated to run out, so that the Legislature can take action. Furthermore, this amendment requires RAFT providers to ensure that these families receive the full $4000 of RAFT funds. This amendment is needed to strengthen the new safety net proposed by Senate Ways and Means, so that the most vulnerable families are able to access temporary accommodations immediately.
Please ask your Senator to strongly support the EA and RAFT amendments throughout the caucus and debate processes. To find out who your State Senator is, go to: www.wheredoivotema.com. Submit your address and click on the link to the Senator’s webpage.
Complete the Advocacy Circle: Call Sr. Linda Bessom SND 781-595-7570 x 18 or e-mail her at Linda@mahomeless.org to let her know who you called if your Senator will be co-sponsoring these amendments.
Thank you for making a difference!
Endorsed by the Homelessness Task Team of the MACUCC
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate two significant events in history: the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (Golden Spike Day). The diversity and common experiences of the many ethnic groups are celebrated during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with numerous community festivals as well as government-sponsored activities. Photo, right, from the Library of Congress: Dressmaking Class at the Manzanar Relocation Center in California
In the United Church of Christ, the Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries (PAAM) was organized in 1974 in San Francisco. The vision was to unite and move forward at the national, regional and local levels as Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans in the United Church of Christ, sharing each person's unique gifts. PAAM was voted into existence at the 10th General Synod in 1975 as a recognized Special Interest Group within the UCC. PAAM has initiated, sponsored, supported and participated in activities at all levels of the conference, worked for greater PAAM representation on all levels of conference boards, committees and staff. PAAM continues to address institutional racism within the church and society, is concerned with human rights and justice, and helps to support and strengthen clergy and lay leadership at the local level.
Over the 50 days of the Mission 4/1 Earth campaign, we are lifting our voices together by writing more than 100,000 advocacy letters on environmental concerns to elected officials and local and national newspapers. Each email and written letter counts toward our goal of shouting out for the environment! Visit the Mission 4/1 Earth advocacy page on ucc.org for more information on how to take action.
Below are some sample letters you may consider sending to your elected officials:
More than 780 million people around the world live without sustainable options for improved water. It is time to make a serious commitment providing water access in ways that sustain God's people and planet.
The State Department recently issued an environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Advocates are concerned that the review ignores the far-reaching impacts the pipeline will have on wildlife, habitat, and climate change.
Urge your Members of Congress to Include Conservation Compliance in the Farm Bill
Our farming practices have a major impact on the health of our environment. Every five or six years Congress writes a new Farm Bill and they are working on a new one this year. The Farm Bill is the legislative package of federal farm and food legislation that sets the farm, food, and rural policy goals and priorities for our nation.
Take Action on Climate Change
As individual people of faith, we can power down our households and green up our communities, but 2013 will be the year when shouting out to our lawmakers can have its greatest impact. Tell your elected officials at every level to take climate change seriously as a moral imperative for change.
Protect Bristol Bay
Bristol Bay, Alaska, is a wild, largely unspoiled eco-system. Over a half a million square miles of rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands support the largest remaining wild salmon populations and habitat on Earth.
As advocates we have a unique opportunity to weigh in and help to shape legislation to address carbon emissions. Take action now!
Remember to record the number of advocacy letters mailed here. Happy writing!
Directions can be found here.
Please contact 2nd Church in W. Newton for more details.
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. David Fish
on Sunday, June 2, 2013
The First Congregational Church of Rutland
264 Main Street, Rutland
David has been called as Pastor
to The First Congregational Church of Rutland
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
FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE CAUSED BY POWER PLANTS
(Federal and State Initiatives)
Sunday, June 2, 2013 2-5 PM
Edwards Church (UCC), 39 Edwards Street, Framingham MA
For directions, please visit: http://www.edwardschurch.org/directions/
Carbon dioxide emissions from power plants produce nearly 40 percent of the global warming pollution in the United States. Despite this, there are currently no limits on the amount of carbon pollution that can be released from power plant smokestacks. Invited experts will be speaking on new initiatives to counter this.
Join us for an informative afternoon, and learn how you can help support these important initiatives. Admission is free! To register for this free event, go to: www.climatechange-powerplants.eventbrite.com. For more information, please email email@example.com.
Keynote talk: New EPA rules for Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants
Speaker: Rachel Cleetus, Ph. D., Senior Climate Economist, Union of Concerned Scientists
The focus of her work is designing and advocating for effective global warming policies at the federal, regional, state
and international levels.
Making Massachusetts Coal-Free
Speaker: Eugenia Gibbons, Program Director, Environmental League of Massachusetts
Eugenia oversees ELM's Global Warming Solutions Project (GWSP) - a diverse network of representatives from MA
state and local government, business, labor, academia, public health, and environmental advocates – and
coordinates joint action and advocacy.
Memorial Congregational Church in Sudbury, MA is a progressive faith community with the United Church of Christ. We are searching for an energetic and creative leader for our growing Church School. This is a great opportunity to explore and share your faith while having fun with children.
The Christian Education Director (CED) provides leadership in the educational ministry, including guidance and resources to support, sustain and grow childrens programming.
Our dedicated team of volunteers is waiting for your leadership as you guide school aged youth to help them discover the many ways to discover the still speaking God in scripture and in their everyday lives.
While the vast majority of this position must focus on the youth, should the candidate be ordained or ordainable this position may include other pastoral opportunities.
This position requires 20 hours /week for 10 months (approximately 40 weeks) per year (Mid-August through mid-June). Specific days and hours are flexible to some extent. . Expected annual salary $20,000-24,000.
Please submit resumes by May 31, 2013.
A full job description is available at http://mccsudbury.org/help-wanted/
The Christian Education/ Youth Director should:
The First Congregational Church of Hatfield is looking for an organist/choir director, with a position opening on July 1, 2013. The Music Director shall be contracted for 56 services per year to include Sunday services, Christmas Eve, Maundy Thursday, Luminarium Concert, and one additional special service. Four paid absences are accommodated per year. The position pays $7500.00 per year, but the annual fee may be negotiated if the applicant has experience or special skill. Interested applicants should forward a cover letter and resume to the Music Committee, c/o Glenda Flynn, 10 North Hatfield Road, Hatfield, MA 01038 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please direct questions to Glenda at 413-247-5891.
7 boxes of choir anthems, numerous titles, such as First Song of Isaiah (White), Glory to God (Pergolesi), Jesu, Joy (arr. Leavett), O For a Thousand Tongues (Wesley) and When the Saints (Rutter). Must take all 7 boxes.
The Rev. Nevin Miller Kirk, of Centerville MA died on April 28, 2013. Rev. Kirk served the Craigville Conference Center as Director of Social and Recreational activities from 1962 through 1966. A memorial service was held at South Congregational Church in Centervill MA on Saturday, May 4, 2013.
For a full obituary, please go to: www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article.
The Reverend Dr. John Dykstra Eusden of Brunswick, Maine died on April 27. Rev. Eusden was a Chaplain at Williams College for over 30 years. There will be a memorial service for Rev. Eusden at First Parish Church in Brunswick ME on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 1:00pm. To see a full obituary, please go to: www.brackettfuneralhome.com/obituaries/John-Eusden/#!/Obituary.
The Rev. Dr. Riley P. Shirley of Concord MA died on April 7, 2013. There will be a memorial service at 10am on Saturday, April 13, 2013 in the Duvall Chapel, 80 Deaconess Road, Concord MA. For online guest book and directions go to Fowler-Kennedy.com. Rev. Riley had served as an interim pastor at Halifax Congregational Church in Halifax, MA.
The Rev. M. Alicia Corea, 92, passed away on March 17 in Walnut Creek, California after a lengthy illness.
You can read about Rev. Corea in the Quincy Sun:
You can read more about her in this article about the special reception at Houghs Neck Congregational Church honoring her 56 years of service in 2010:
The Rev. Joan M. Haner, 80, of Fairhaven, passed away on March 5, 2013, at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River.
(If you'd like to leave a note in remembrance of Sue, visit this News Story and leave your comment at the bottom.)
Susan Dickerman served on the staff of the Massachusetts Conference for 26 years, most recently spearheading the Pastoral Excellence Program. She had resigned at the end of the year to work with a new Lilly Grant to expand that program to other Conferences and denominations, but then resigned from that position due to a recurrence of the cancer she had overcome several years ago.
Susan joined the Conference staff in 1986, serving as staff to the Annual Meeting worship planning committee. She organized the worship and program components of Annual Meeting for much of her tenure, including for the 200th Anniversary Celebration that brought 11,500 people to the DCU Center in Worcester in 1999 and the Amistad Celebration that brought 8.000 people to Boston in 2003.
Dickerman was also well known in the Conference for her work in leading hundreds of churches to adopt safe church policies, her work with Christian Educators, and her role in coordinating countless gatherings and colloquies for clergy and lay leaders. She coordinated the strategic planning process that led the Conference to adopt the Vision for Growth and Renewal in 1999, and followed that by successfully co-writing the grant application to the Lilly Endowment that led to the formation of the Pastoral Excellence Program.
Dickerman also served as Christian Education Director at the Edwards Church in Framingham.
“It is impossible to summarize the impact Sue Dickerman has had on the churches, the leaders, the teachers and the staff of the Mass Conference over her 26 years of service,” Antal said of Susan when she left the Conference staff. “Sue’s life and ministry testify to how God’s presence becomes visible in relationships. Her personal vitality and courage have inspired countless ones of us to take on enormous challenges and dream unlikely visions of how God’s kingdom might show up – right here; right now.