Congregations Join In Community-Wide Effort to Fight Homelessness

By Drew Page

NEWINGTON -  A chance meeting launched a homelessness assistance program 30 years ago. Another chance meeting three years ago helped bring that program to Church of Christ in Newington and other New Britain area churches. In March, Family Promise of Central Connecticut served its first family. 

Today, Family Promise of Central Connecticut consists of 10 congregations in the New Britain area. The "Hub" of the program is the Day Center located in downtown New Britain. Churches, like Newington, provide night time sleeping quarters and a family-style meal where volunteers sit and dine with the families rather than serve them. 


By The Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton
Pastor,  Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC, in Westport, CT.

Here's the truth:  Achieving oneness is not as simple as it sounds - and maybe not even as desirable. We can't even contemplate the oneness of God without mixing in a little Trinitarian thinking. Yes, of course God is One. But then there's the Christ, God-in-a-Body, not to mention that hard-to-pin-down Holy Spirit. Each of these members of the Trinity has their own personality, their own job description, their own story.  Together, we say, they make One-God-in-Community.  Because we love Oneness and we love community!  

But go ahead: try to explain this to someone who hasn't grown up in a Trinitarian tradition. Three and one? Do you mean, like a three-in-one vacuum cleaner?  Or a pudding cup with three flavors?  Or a sleep sofa with a recliner option?  It's as awkward as it sounds.  So awkward, that we need hyphens to hold all the parts together:  Three-in-one.

Still, we keep trying, because we want it both ways: Oneness and diversity.  We want to celebrate a solo God, without getting stuck on one image of God:  Old White Man With a Beard, for example.  That creative tension is in our United Church of Christ DNA.  And as I think about it, maybe that's a good thing.  Maybe it's helpful to remember that not even God does plain old oneness without a hyphen.  Maybe it's worth remembering, as we talking about being "Together, As One."  Three-conferences-in-one:  Three conferences, each with their own personality, their own story.  And within each conference, three times three times three times three (and so on) different faith communities, each with their own personality and their own story.

Zambia And The $15 Minimum Wage in Connecticut

By The Rev. Kari Nicewander
Senior Minister, Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford.

Two years ago, my family and I moved to Connecticut from Lusaka, Zambia.

It was a startling adjustment, and not only because we arrived in February, moving from 80 degree weather into the frigid temperatures of a Connecticut winter.

We were well prepared for this monumental change, but what was extremely disconcerting to me were the things that were unchanged, particularly regarding those who struggle with extreme poverty.

In Zambia, countless human beings were unable to achieve even the basic necessities of life – food, shelter, medicine. People who worked long, excruciating hours simply could not earn enough to provide for their families. While we helped provide what we could, it was heartbreaking to watch loved ones suffer – to watch children die because their parents, no matter how hard they worked, could not earn enough to pay for proper medical care.

This was a daily reality in Zambia. With great sorrow, I learned it is also a reality for far too many in Connecticut.

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Bullying in the Churches

By The Rev. Stephen Finlan
Pastor of First Congregational Church of Plainfield, CT

Do bullies have free rein in our churches? Who are the bullies? What is scapegoating? Can we practice the mercy and forgiveness demanded by Jesus, while also protecting people from harm?

Jesus tells us to be both harmless and wise (Matt 10:16). I am looking for behaviors that are both spiritually valid and psychologically wise, that do not leave people helpless against the cruelty of church bullies.

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Webinar recording, resources, available online

A recording of the pre-Annual Meeting webinar, with accompanying resources, is now available online.

The webinar was designed to give representatives from each church tips on how to spread the news about the upcoming historic Tri-Conference Annual Meeting, being held June 16 and 17 at the Connecticut Convention Center. The meeting marks the first time the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island Conferences will hold a joint Annual Meeting.

The webinar was hosted by Wellesley Congregational Church (MA) member John Hargrave and Associate Conference Minister for Communications Tiffany Vail.

Find the recording and resources here
Sanctuary Resources, Webinar, Available

Sanctuary: Frequently Asked Questions
April 18, 2:00 - 3:00 PM


In this webinar, presented by the Insurance Boards, UCC General Counsel Heather Kimmel will address the current interest of faith communities in operating as sanctuary churches, the legal risks, and ways churches can minister to undocumented persons. 

You can also find numerous related resources on the CTUCC Sanctuary Churches page.
Local Churches in the News

WOODSTOCK VILLAGER: Empty Bowls Fill Food Pantry

Emmy Bowl Project fundraiser brings in $6K to benefit Interfaith Human Services of Putnam.

See the lead story in the Woodstock Villager.

Spirit Calendar: Two Parades
Cecile Gilson  writes: "As we journey though this week before Easter let us remember that we have the strength and courage through Jesus to face our own Easter experiences."

Spirited Wednesday: Hosannas and Horror

The Rev. John Nelson writes:  ""Hosanna means help. 'Save, we pray!'

Upcoming Conference Events
April 22, 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM
East Woodstock Congregational Church,
Woodstock, CT
This event is open to Specialized Ministers  and those serving on Committees on Ministry in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The session will feature  the Rev. Stephen Boyd, UCC Minister for Specialized Ministry.
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 9 - 11
Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon 
Whether you challenge yourself on the high ropes course or lounge in the meadow, swap stories with old friends or spend an afternoon on your own, Clergy Camp is the place to step back from life's demands, unwind, and capture the joy of summer. For authorized ministers to network and engage in self-care.
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

46th Annual NEAUCE Conference: Toward Common Ground
May 2 - 4
Pilgrim Pines, Swanzey, NH

Three day event gives church leaders involved in Faith Formation a chance to refresh, rejuvenate and renew. 

May 5 - 6 
Andover Newton Theological School,
Newton Center
Nine-hour workshop led by the Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper.  
May 13, 2017 at 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Rocky Hill Congregational Church
Jessica Steytler, librarian with the Congregational Library in Boston, will present a workshop on Archives 101. 
May 16 - 18
Miramar Retreat and Conference Center, D uxbury, MA
Singing God’s Song in Uncertain Times; R enewing our Bodies & Souls - Listening to our Muse;  elebrating Our Lives as Sisters in Ministry   
May 22 - 24
Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT
An opportunity for religious leaders to engage as communities of “moral deliberation,” to reflect and offer up practical opportunities for engagement in the public sphere.
July 9 - 12
Simmons College, Boston, MA
This biannual conference seeks to nourish, inspire, and sustain church musicians.    
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