What Might We Do Together?

By Keith Marzilli Ericson
A member of First Congregational, UCC, Somerville, MA.

I'm excited by the proposed merger that would create a new Southern New England UCC conference. It a chance to experiment and find out what kind of structures are best able to support the work of the church.
The landscape of ministry is changing. There are radical shifts in how people perceive the role of faith communities. The ways in which companies and schools are organized are changing as well. The way we organize ourselves in the local and wider church serves a purpose: to help us live out our faith together, following in the Way of Jesus ...

I find the merger idea exciting because we don't have to do this, but we are choosing to make a bold change. I wonder, what else might it inspire in the way of experimentation? 

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Bulletin Inserts Available to Publicize Historic Meeting

The Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences are making available bulletin inserts for churches to use to let members know about the historic Tri-Conference Annual Meeting taking place June 16 - 17 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT.

This Annual Meeting marks the first time the three conferences will hold annual meetings Together, As One. And it is the first time since the United Church of Christ was formed in 1957 that delegates will be asked to endorse the idea of joining together to form a new conference.

Bulletin inserts can be downloaded, or bundles of pre-printed inserts can be requested for free.

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Abolitionist’s Hartford Visit Important Symbol  
By Damaris Whittaker and Steve Thornton

Symbols have a power that can be used for good or evil. Some shame us and leave a stain on our collective conscience. The best symbols help us remember our past and nurture us when we struggle in dark times.
When Confederate memorials are renamed or taken down, which has happened in New Haven, with the renaming of Yale University’s Calhoun College this year, and New Orleans, with the recent removal of two Confederate war memorials, it’s a small but real victory for the 4 million black people held in bondage and all those who fought to eradicate our country’s “original sin.”
The closest thing Hartford has to a Confederate memorial may be a plaque currently affixed to a downtown Hartford office building at 777 Main St. It marks a campaign stop by Stephen A. Douglas, the slavery apologist who ran for the presidency in 1860 against Abraham Lincoln. At best, it is a thoughtless gesture; at worst, an insult to freedom fighters and their descendants.
It’s not enough, however, just to reject these offensive symbols. We must continue to reclaim images that can teach and inspire. There are many such stories waiting to be uncovered and passed on to the next generation.
One such story took place not far from the plaque to Douglas on the grounds of Hartford’s Center Church, The First Church of Christ. On May 18, 1843, Frederick Douglass, an African-American abolitionist, was allowed to speak, but not in the church.

Calls Needed Now on Minimum Wage Bill

By David Biklen, a member of Immanuel Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford

The bill (House Bill 6208) calling for a $15/hour minimum wage for CT low-wage workers is in the legislature and has been referred to the Appropriations Committee for consideration. The proposal is supported by the CT Conference of the United Church of Christ and by over several hundred members and friends of Immanuel Congregational Church and four other Hartford-area UCC congregations. The proposal is also going to be considered as a resolution at the UCC Annual Synod this July in Baltimore.
Although the proposal has over 40 legislator cosponsors, including the Democratic leader of the Senate, there is still considerable disinterest or outright opposition. It is important that you email members of the Appropriations Committee with your support.

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Spirit Calendar: Good Things

Emily McKenna 
writes: "You are doing good things."

Spirited Wednesday: An Open Mind

The Rev. Mobby Larson writes:  "God is found where we meet together and share."

Featured Event

May 21, 2 - 4 PM
Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon

Come take a tour of camp, meet the Director, volunteers, and staff, roast a marshmallow, make a nametag, meet some new friends! All are welcome.   
Upcoming Conference Events

Together, As One Online Forum
May 21, 4:00 PM
An online forum open to anyone who would like to join a discussion about the proposal to form a new Conference. With Kent Siladi (Connecticut Conference Minister), Jim Antal (Massachusetts Conference Minister & President) and Dale Azevedo (Rhode Island Conference)

May 23, 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Farmington Congregational Church
A special Best Practices Session with Rev. Susan Murtha, who will be our facilitator as we discuss creating and implementing an effective ministry plan for congregations in transition. We will also review recommended competencies for Transitional Ministry as well as possible revisions to the Interim Process.
May 28, 3:00 PM
Faith Congregational Church, Hartford
A time of worship and celebration of the ministry of The Rev. Da Vita McCallister, who is leaving the Connecticut Conference staff after having served for nine years.   
May 31, 5:45 PM to 8:30 PM
CTUCC Office, Hartford
Join us to recognize our Thinking About Working For God Apprentices and the congregations that are nurturing them. A light supper will be provided followed by a program of testimony.   
June 6
Lyman Orchards Golf Club, Middlefield
Grab your buddies and your clubs and swing into summer with a day on the links, all while helping to support the Connecticut Conference's vital outdoor ministry. 

Together, As One Online Forum
June 7, 7:00 PM

An online forum open to anyone who would like to join a discussion about the proposal to form a new Conference. With Kent Siladi (Connecticut Conference Minister), Vard Johnson (Massachusetts Conference Board member), and Barbara Libby (Interim Rhode Island Conference Minister)

Together, As One Online Forum
June 8, 1:00 PM

An online forum open to anyone who would like to join a discussion about the proposal to form a new Conference. With Jocelyn Gardner Spencer (Connecticut Conference Board member), Corey Sanderson (Massachusetts Conference Board member), and George Peters (Rhode Island Conference President)

Together, As One Online Forum
June 8, 7:00 PM

An online forum open to anyone who would like to join a discussion about the proposal to form a new Conference. W
ith Kent Siladi (Connecticut Conference Minister), Corey Sanderson (Massachusetts Conference Board member), and Barbara Libby (Interim Rhode Island Conference Minister) 

Tri-Conference Annual Meeting
June 16 - 17

Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, CT 

The historic first joint Annual Meeting of the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences. With UCC General Minister & President John Dorhauer as keynote speaker.

General Synod 31
June 30 - July 5
Baltimore, MD
Join with thousands of faithful members of the United Church of Christ for formal church witness, inspirational worship, and fellowship 
August 26, 11 AM to 5 PM
Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon
A cookout lunch will be provided, as well as time to participate in traditional Silver Lake activities, explore on your own, take a group decade photo, and join in worship. 
Find a complete list of Conference events at: www.ctucc.org/events
Other Events of Interest
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.
June 5 -  9, 6 PM - 9 PM each evening
Yale Divinity School, New Haven
This ​weeklong ​course ​of evening sessions is ​designed ​for ​pastors, ​seminarians, lay ​leaders, ​and ​youth ​ministers to gather ​for ​fellowship ​dinners, ​lectures, ​and ​workshop ​breakouts ​to ​name and discuss some of the ​adversities our ​youth ​face every day.    

OWL Training in New Hampshire
June 30 - July 4

The First Church, Nashua, NH

This workshop trains teachers in how to teach participants about sexuality in age-appropriate ways.

July 9 - 12
Simmons College, Boston, MA
This biannual conference seeks to nourish, inspire, and sustain church musicians.    
July 10 - 14 
Craigville Reterat Center, Craigville, MA
A full week including presentations, Bible reflections, daily worship services, small group discussions, singing, playing music and Keynote Speaker Professor Lee C. Barrett.
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