BLOG: A New Holiday for the UCC

By Sir John Hargrave

Member of The Wellesley Congregational Church, Wellesley, MA 

In 1754, Benjamin Franklin published this famous drawing in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. Until that point, the early American colonies were operating like independent fiefdoms, and Franklin was encouraging the colonies to come together to form something greater than the sum of their parts.

Because it's the earliest graphical representation of a united America, some call it the first American political cartoon. That simple line drawing was reprinted countless times, because the message was so easy to understand: united we are powerful, but divided we are dead.

In America, we value independence. We celebrate our great leaders, inventors, and businesspeople for their independent thinking. Our favorite movies are about rugged individualists, from outlaw cowboys to space fighters. Our biggest national holiday is even named Independence Day.

But the truth is that we're not just independent, we're also interdependent. Our churches are deeply connected with our communities. Our communities are connected with our country. Our country is connected to a global economy, a global internet, and a global environment.

Why is it that we have Independence Day, but no Interdependence Day? Where is the holiday to celebrate our connection with each other, and the world?

For those of us within the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences of the United Church of Christ, our Annual Meeting is that day. It is a time to come together as a wider church: to learn, network, laugh, pray, sing, and worship together. It is a time to celebrate our interdependence. 

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Find out more about the Tri-Conference Annual Meeting 

March 30th Webinar to Offer Tips for Talking About Annual Meeting

Every church in the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences is being encouraged to designate someone from the congregation to take part in a March 30th online webinar designed to teach how to spread the news about the upcoming historic Tri-Conference Annual Meeting.

This Meeting, being held June 16 and 17 at the Connecticut Convention Center, will be the historic first gathering of the three conferences together, at a meeting that will feature inspirational worship, shared communion and a discussion about the future church with UCC General Minister and President the Rev. John C. Dorhauer. The Meeting will see delegates vote on whether the three conferences should join together, as one, to form a new conference.

Annual Meeting planners hope that 1,000 people will turn out for the event, and so are working to make sure everyone in the three conferences knows that they are invited and encouraged to come. One way to do that is to equip someone in each congregation with talking points they may find useful in explaining this once-in-a-lifetime event. This may be the church's Conference delegate, pastor or someone else.

The webinar is being offered on March 30 at noon and again at 7 PM.

Read more and sign up to attend 

Windsor First Apologizes For Role 17th Century Witch Trials

WINDSOR – After 370 years, one may think apologies are no longer needed. After all, who is alive to remember the wrong doing? The community at First Church in Windsor, UCC, felt an apology was needed, and it should be done publicly.
Members of the church recently stood in support as the town council of Windsor presented a resolution to acknowledge the wrongful deaths of two Windsor residents who were hanged as witches in the mid-1600s.
"Today, the members of First Church in Windsor, United Church of Christ, support this resolution as a first step in acknowledging this part of our collective and mutual history, to apologize for its participation in the hanging of these two women," said Rev. Char Corbett, Associate Pastor of First Church in a prepared statement at the event.
The resolution does not pardon anyone, nor seek to change any official judicial record. Its purpose is to recognize that the community today sees history through a new lens.
"It really truly is a matter of justice," says Corbett. "We're not out to change history, but we can understand it differently."

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Photo Album:
Rise With Standing Rock and Native Nations
More than 100 UCC folks from 26 states joined together in Washington DC to march in solidarity with Standing Rock and Native Nations in support of indigenous rights and environmental justice. The march started at the Army Corps of Engineers office building, paused at the Trump International Hotel, and ended at Lafayette park in front of the White House. 

Pam Arifian, Director of the Northeast Regional Environmental Justice Center at Silver Lake, reports that it was:  "An incredible day of unity, hope, love and respect."

Local Churches in the News

ZIP06.COM: North Branford's Rush Hour Offering: 'Ash on Your Dash'

For the second year running, North Branford First Congregational Church is offering "Ash on Your Dash" – a rush hour Ash Wednesday offering catering to commuters. 

The option offers commuters a quick pit stop to receive ashes at the altar, and still make it to work on time.

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NEWTOWN BEE: Newtown Installs Youth and Mission Minister

The Reverend Kristen Provost Switzer celebrated her 210th day in service to Newtown Congregational Church in grand style.

With music, prayers, and not one but two cakes waiting for guests to cut in to, the Sandy Hook resident was formally installed as the church’s first minister of youth and mission on February 26.

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Spirit Calendar: Encounters
The Rev. Michael Ciba writes: ""One of the ways we worship God is through the ordinary encounters of everyday life."

Spirited Wednesday: You Get A Blessing, You All Get A Blessing...

The Rev. Brenda Pelc-Faszcza writes:  ""God is here with us, no matter what we feel we’re lacking or missing!" 

Upcoming Conference Events
Super Saturday!
March 18, 8:00 AM - 3:45 PM
Minnechaug Regional High School,  Wilbraham, MA
A full day of workshops, networking and a keynote address by author, storyteller, and theologian  Brian McLaren. Walk ins will be accepted, but numerous workshops are full.
March 23, March 30, and April 6
2:00 - 3:00 PM
An online book study of Eboo Patel's   Sacred Ground . For pastors, youth leaders, and lay leaders who wish to explore new models for Interfaith dialogue. Try on this unique Lenten practice as a way to grow in understanding of Muslim neighbors.  
March 24 - 26
Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon
Whether you’re a yoga devotee or a novice, a seasoned singer or shy about your voice, we have a special place for you in our circle! A weekend of exploration and restoration, rather than performance and perfectionism.
March 24 - 26
Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon
For youth in grades 6 - 8, experience nature’s renewal and its sweet gifts.
April 29, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
UCC Southbury
This event will present a timely gathering of speakers:  Chris George, Executive Director of IRIS (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services); Megan Miller from Church World Service; Aida Mansoor, President of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut and others. 
April 30, 3:00 - 5:30 PM
First Church of Christ Congregational, West Hartford
A dynamic worship service that will renew your spirit. All youth in grades 5 and up and their pastors, parents, or adult leaders are invited.
May 5 - 7
Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon
From chopping wood to repairing buildings, moving picnic tables to raking leaves, there’s a project for everyone, high schoolers through adult. 
May 19 - 21
Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon
Environmental justice and leadership training for youth in grades 9-12 who care about the health of their communities
June 30 - July 5
Baltimore, MD
This event is for young leaders ages 13 to 18 who want to experience the vibrant diversity of the wider church.   Participation is limited to 18 from the Connecticut Conference - registration now open.
Find a complete list of Conference events at:
Other Events of Interest

Embracing Stewardship: 2017 Northeast Ecumenical Stewardship Council Conference
March 24 - 25

Holiday Inn, Boxborough

How to Put Stewardship at the Heart of Your Congregation's Life. An Ecumenical Conference for Churches.  

March 30, 2017 at 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
First Church, West Hartford
This lecture is part of an on-going effort by JPW Library and First Church West Hartford’s Outreach team to focus on issues of social justice, faith, and spirituality.” 
April 1, 2017 at 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Edwards House Meeting Center, Framingham, MA
Members-in-Discernment throughout New England are invited to attend this workshop for help in navigating through the search and call process within the UCC. 
April 1, 10:30 AM - 2:30 PM
First Congregational Church of Stamford
Come and hear a Native American perspective on American History and the Dakota Access Pipeline with Mark Charles, Navajo Christian Author and speaker. 
April 1, 12:30 - 4:00 PM
First Church of Christ, Congregational, Farmington
2-day event to commemorate the 175-year anniversary of the freedom of the  La Amisted  captives.
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