Keeping you informed of happenings around the New York Conference, UCC.

Happenings Around Our Conference
My Thoughts
Rev. Freeman Palmer
Today we are one week into February: African-American History Month. As part of my personal commemoration, I looked to my library to re-read one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read. It is Faces at the Bottom of the Well, written in 1992 by Derrick Bell. Bell, who died in 2011, has an honored place in our history as the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard Law School. In Faces, Bell presents a collection of allegorical essays built around his thesis that racism is a 'permanent' and 'indestructible' component of American society. I most recently finished reading a debate between Bell and an imaginary colleague regarding the "Racial Licensing Preference Act," which allowed employers, public facilities, businesses, and realtors among others to openly exclude persons based on race and requiring payment of a quarterly tax to a fund ostensibly to improve the well being of African-Americans. While a part of me would like to deny Dr. Bell's thesis of the permanence of racism, the empirical evidence of American history and my life experience in this country unequivocally supports it.
However, I continue to marvel at the persistence of a people who would not be conquered by the systemic evil born of greed and fear. This persistence has been in no small part faith-based, dating from the days when Jesus was imparted to slaves by plantation owners as Oppressor, yet revealed as Liberator. Persistence, whether manifest in coded messages embedded in spirituals, shouts amid the boycotts and marches of the fifties and sixties, or more recent declarations that Black Lives Matter, characterizes the miracle of an indefatigable people against improbable odds of survival.
Almost every year since February was designated Black History Month as part of the nation's bicentennial in 1976, I hear from someone, somewhere why anyone needs an African-American History month. In these turbulent and downright dangerous times, I for one need it, because it reminds me of the power that is possible through persistence as evidenced in my own history. It was, according to Jesus, the persistence of the widow that miraculously received justice from the unjust judge. Such a reminder, in spite of today, may result in the miraculous tomorrow.
Let us march on till victory is won,

Rev. Freeman Palmer
Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development
New and Right Spirit:
Understanding race, racism, and white privilege

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10
As never before in our history, now is the time for intentional pro-active education on race, racism and white privilege in all of our communities. This is the goal of the "New and Right Spirit" one-day campaign on Ash Wednesday. This will not be church folk talking to church folk. This will be engaging communities in honest, safe, and yes unsettling conversations on the daily realities of racism in New York. It takes very specialized training to lead this. Providing the training and then deploying conversation facilitators is the goal of this "New and Right Spirit" effort. Please give online on Ash Wednesday. The link for giving will go live March 1st on:
Bulletin inserts are now available at this same website.  Please promote.
Bulletin Insert: Seminary Sunday/Church Vocations Sunday

On February 26, Seminary Sunday/Church Vocations Sunday, we keep seminaries and all those preparing for authorized ministry in prayer. We give thanks for the education offered by our long-standing UCC seminaries, for the generations of pastors who have been equipped for ministry, and for those who continue to teach and form individuals for Christ's service. With a growing awareness that many who are called to ministry require a different path of preparation, we invite you to include regional theological education programs, like our own New York School of Ministry, in your prayers on the 26th. Click here for bulletin insert about The New York School of Ministry, for use that day.
NYSOM Spring Learning Event on Leadership Styles

The Spring Learning Event will take place on March 17-18 (from Friday dinner through worship, mid-afternoon on Saturday), at Watson Homestead (9620 Dry Run Road, Painted Post NY). Our own Marsha Williams will lead a program entitled, "From Management to Leadership: How Leadership Styles Motivate and Empower Vital Ministry."  
Leadership and management go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing. The goal of leadership is to equip others and motivate them to strive toward a common vision. Do we even recognize when we are managing projects instead of leading people? Do we understand our personal leadership style and how it impacts and influences the mission and vision within our congregations?
This learning event will encourage participants to discover their personal leadership style and the role it plays in congregational growth and success. We hope to gather authorized ministers, lay leaders (moderators, chairs of committees, church councils), and folks who are interested in developing their leadership skills. Before the event, participants need to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment, TOP 5 STRENGTHS online, which can be accessed through this link:
 The assessment costs $15. Please bring your report with you to the learning event.
Cost for the Learning Event: Overnight $105; Commuter $55 
Registration is open!
To register as an overnighter: Click here
To register as a commuter: Click here
Become a better Minister

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Become part of a Community of Practice. In-person and online groups are forming now in the New York Conference. Visit the links below for more information.

Calling all toothbrushes!

The Mission Team going to Nicaragua Feb. 21 thru the 27 representing the Bayberry UCC, Plymouth UCC from the Syracuse on behalf of the NY Conference is looking for Donations of Toothbrushes to be handed folks who need in Managua. If you have extra new toothbrushes to donate please send them to the Conference office: 5575 Thompson Rd, DeWitt NY 13214 or if you have any questions please contact Sueli Gaewsky 315-446-3073 or email

Register: United Church of Canada's Women's Conference

Women in the United Church of Christ are invited to the "55th Anniversary National United Church Women 'Celebrating Women'" conference. Please find below an electronic copy of the Conference Brochure as well as the Registration Form for the upcoming United Church Women (UCW), the women's conference of the United Church of Canada. The gathering is in Vancouver July 10-14, 2017 at the University of British Columbia.
Click here for a brochure.
Click here for the registration form.
Click here for the event website.
Unity Sunday/Sacred Conversation on Race held at Safe Haven

On January 22, Safe Haven partnered with Community Church in the Pelhams and The Church of the Highlands after being asked by the Community Church of the Pelhams to host a Unity Sunday and have a Sacred Conversation on Race. Leaders from all three congregations met and designed a joint worship service. It was a spirited worship experience with songs, prayers, instruments, Holy Communion, and a provocative sermon delivered by Rev. Karyn Carlo who preached "Divided by a Common Language, United by a Common Hope." After service, a delicious home-cooked meal was served, followed by authentic dialog on race relations in America and in the church. The discussion was thought-provoking, transparent, and moving. The call to action was for participants to deepen their knowledge of the African American experience by viewing the documentary 13
th , seeing the movie Hidden Figures, watching Joy DeGruy's work on Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome and to vow to do one thing that will reconcile them to people of another race. The group will gather together again after the Lenten season to continue to develop relationship with one another.
State Youth Event registration now open!

Registration is now open for 2017 UCCNY State Youth Event. This year's theme is "Realize, Relax, Reassure." The event will be March 3-5 at Watson Homestead Convention Center. For more information and to register, click here.

If you have any questions about the Youth Event, email Ryan Henderson at
If you have any problems with registration, contact Patti Rodrigues at 315-446-3073 ext. 15 or email her at
Conference Minister Endorses Camp Fowler

Two years ago Camp Fowler (and several other summer camps) requested that I endorse and promote their summer youth programs. Having worked extensively with summer camps in both Maine and New Hampshire, I am aware that a camp accredited by the American Camping Association is of critical importance in order for a conference to stand behind their programs. ACA accreditation ensures the highest standard for program safety in the summer camp industry. For this reason I told every camp that requested my backing that as soon as they achieved the ACA standard, I would support them.
I am very pleased to communicate that Camp Fowler on the shores of Sacandaga Lake in the Adirondack Mountains responded to my challenge and has been granted ACA accreditation. Having gone through the accreditation process in Maine, I can attest that this is no small achievement. For this reason I will promote Camp Fowler (or any other ACA accredited facility) for New York youth to enjoy! Camp Fowler is associated with the Reformed Church in America (Albany Synod). Ryan Henderson and I have met with their Director several times and we are pleased to support their program.
Registration for summer camp is now open online at Check out their programs. Several members of the New York Conference have been very active in their programs throughout the years including Marian Shearer, Janelle Richardson, and Emily Otto. They will attest to the inclusive, spiritual, and safe attributes that make Camp Fowler a wonderful experience for youth. Visit their website. You can also call Camp Fowler at 518-631-6789.
David Gaewski
UCCNY churches at Women's Marches

Several churches in the New York Conference were represented at the Women's Marches on January 21. Click here for more information and pictures!
Clergy Called to Sign Letter

The Faith Integration Coalition has compiled a letter supporting refugee resettlement. Clergy are asked to sign. Originally, 2000 signatures were sought, but 3,500 religious leaders have signed so far. Click here to read the complete letter and add your signature.
Staff Preaching Schedule

Rev. Freeman L. Palmer
March 5 - First Congregational Church of Corning
March 12 - United Church of Rockville Centre
March 19 - United Church of Spring Valley

Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams
February 12 - First Congregational UCC, Norwich
February 26 - Corona Congregational Church UCC
Opportunities for Education
Free Upcoming Webinars

Thursday February 16,  7:00 - 8:00 pm
Leader: Sarah McCaslin
Waffle Church is a worship service of St. Lydia's in Brooklyn, NY, that welcomes all persons to worship from a posture of openness, awe, candor and questioning, like that of a child. Waffle Church began in July 2015, after a process of discernment among members of St. Lydia's who noticed that their regular Dinner Church services, held on Sunday and Monday evenings, were not welcoming to families with young children. From there grew the idea of an all-ages service that would embrace the same values and principles as Dinner Church, while also encouraging the participation and leadership of children in worship.
Tuesday February 21,  7:00 - 8:00 pm
Leader: Ken Willard
What is driving your church's agenda? Structure? Programs?  Maybe it is time to get back to our mission of making disciples. This interactive webinar will cover: signs your church needs a discipleship process; what a discipleship process is and what it is not; and the first six key steps to begin the process of developing a new pathway for your church. Make plans now to attend this webinar with other leaders from your ministry. "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For more information and other upcoming webinars, click here.
Boundary Awareness Trainings offered in Metro

The Metropolitan association is hosting a Boundary Awareness Training on Monday, March 27 at the Garden City Community Church. Regular BAT is being offered as well as the Clergy BAT Renewal. Cost for the entire training (9:00a-4:00p) is $80 if paid before March 13, or $100 at the door. Cost for the renewal training is $60 paid before March 13 or $80 at the door.  Click here  for a registration form, registration information, and directions for the training.
Boundary Awareness Trainings offered in Western

The Western association is hosting a one day renewal Boundary Awareness Training on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at Ebenezer UCC,630 Main Street, West Seneca, NY 14224. This is the only scheduled BAT for 2017, so if you are due this year, this is the training for you. Cost for the training (9:00a-4:00p) is $75 if paid before May 10, or $100 at the door. For "no-shows" at the training event, a $25 fee will be retained from your refund. To register and for further information, please contact Rev. Robert C. Dievendorf at or 585-492-4530..
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Covenant Share is the Special Offering approved by the New York Conference in 2013. This offering can be taken up any time during the year. Covenant Share is to be received in the manner as One Great Hour of Sharing and Neighbors in Need. The Covenant Share Offering makes possible ministries specific to the United Church of Christ in New York.

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