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

Happenings Around Our Conference
My Thoughts
Rev. Freeman Palmer
Today is November 30. It is the last day of a month that has been, to say the least, eventful. I hearken back, three weeks earlier, to the day following the Presidential Election. I was certain that at some unconscious level I sighed relief in that perhaps the most divisive, contentious, and antagonistic campaign in the history of this country had finally reached its end. Yet I was also certain that regardless of the outcome, division, contention, and antagonism would remain. Driving to a meeting that morning in the Suffolk Association, the high anxiety I generally experience with New York City rush hour traffic gave way to a deeper anxiety about the future for this country and many in it, myself included, given the events of a few hours before.
 
Not up to listening to news that morning, I chose to listen to WBGO, the jazz station that serves the New York City area. The morning host, perhaps intentionally or Providentially, played precisely at 8:42 that morning precisely the song my spirit needed to hear. The song was The Creator Has a Master Plan. The song, performed by Babatunde Lea, contained these words composed by fellow jazz artist Pharaoh Sanders:
 
The creator has a master plan
Peace and happiness for every man
The creator has a working plan
Peace and happiness for every man
 
You can listen to the song in its entirety (10 minutes it is jazz!) by clicking here.
 
This song powerfully reminded me of The Master plan above all human events, all human powers, and all human planning. Perhaps, as we begin this season of Advent, we all need this reminder as we prepare for the coming of the plan's chief architect:  Jesus Christ. Particularly in these times I believe Jesus can't come soon enough. Further, I pray that our spiritual preparation for Jesus' coming will deepen our commitment, in faith and courage, to 'working the plan', the Creator's master plan, for nothing less than peace and happiness for everyone - the Shalom of the World.   
 
In Advent Hope,
Freeman

Rev. Freeman Palmer, Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development
Announcements
New overtime law put on hold

A nationwide injunction has postponed new overtime laws that were scheduled to take effect on December 1. According to a blog on Church Law and Tax, "The changes would have significantly increased the salary threshold used under the Fair Labor Standards Act to determine which white-collar employees are eligible for overtime time." The law, if enacted, will double the salary exemption level from $23,660 to $47,476. For more information on the injunction and how this law could affect your church, click here.
Thank you to our Friends of the Conference volunteers

The New York Conference would like to say THANK YOU for helping with our largest annual mailing of the Friends of the Conference appeal to:
Bonnie Connolly
Chris Hopkins
Janet Hammond
Mona Arnold
Deanne Bellinger
S. Scott Kraemer
Barbara Forsstrom
Joanne Ferguson
Mary Dahn
Susan Frost
Peggy Kinner

Friends of the Conference is an annual appeal sent directly to individuals who have participated in the life of the New York Conference. It is not mailed to churches. The gifts from the Friends offering directly assist with the ministry and mission of the conference.
Parish Nurse survey

The UCC Faith Community Nurse Network Leadership Team is revising the UCC Manual on Faith Community Nursing. We ask that all health ministry teams or faith community nurses (parish nurses) please collaborate with us in this process by responding to a brief survey so that we can include the information most helpful to this ministry.  This link will take you to the  brief survey .
  
We ask that the survey be completed before Wednesday, Nov. 30th.
 
Thank you in advance for sharing your valuable insights!
 
The UCC Faith Community Nurses Leadership Team
"Light in our Darkness" service this Sunday in Bayberry

United Church of Christ in Bayberry, 215 Blackberry Rd., Liverpool will be holding a  "Light In Our Darkness" service on Sunday, December 4 at 5:00p. This Jazz Vespers will feature musicians from CNY  Jazz Central and vocalist Danielle Patrice.  Jazz selections will be drawn from secular and sacred sources, with inspirational readings and homily.  Admission is free and all are welcome. 

The teen youth will serve a soup and sandwich supper following the service.
Opportunities for Education
Upcoming Webinars from Practical Resources for Churches
 
Thursday, December 1, 2016
7:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern
Leader: Debbie Kolacki
ONLINE: UCC History, Theology and Polity Course, Jan. 2017
 
A UCC History, Theology and Polity Course that meets the requirements as set forth by the UCC Polity Teacher's Network will be offered online during January 2017. Classes will begin at 9:00am and end at 4:00pm on the following dates: January 7, 21 and 28 and February 4. The platform utilized will be Zoom Video Conferencing ( zoom.us). The tuition will be $465. For more information contact the instructor, Reverend David Gaewski, NY Conference Minister, at  davidgaewski@uccny.org
 
This polity course is sponsored by the Oneida Association of the New York Conference. Payments should be sent no later than December 20 to Diana Pelletier, 114 Munro Dr., Camillus, NY 13031. Make checks payable to Oneida Association UCC.

A syllabus is available upon request. Laity, Members in Discernment and Privilege of Call candidates are all invited! Class size is limited to the first twelve to register. The course will be cancelled if we do not obtain seven registered students. A student is considered registered when full payment has been received. Students who cancel enrollment will receive reimbursements up until January 6.
News from Our Committees
Global Ministries
From Deanne Bellinger: It has been two weeks since I returned from my month's stay in East Jerusalem. I was a short term volunteer for Global Ministries and was working at one of our partners, Radat El Zuhur School. This is a grade school, K-6, and the children are taught both Arabic and English, as well as those subjects taught in all schools.

They have a large number of English books in their library, but they needed to be cataloged. That was my job. As such, I did not have a lot of interaction with the children except when they came to the library for class.

While I was there, classes K-2 went on a field trip to pick olives, as it was olive picking season. Naturally, the children were very excited. The were bussed to Beit Hanina, still in Palestine, on the way to Ramalla. It was a small orchard of perhaps eight trees and the children sat around while the teachers spoke to them about the olives and then a gentleman dressed in Palestinian garb read them a story. Later I asked what the story was about. The story was about a grandfather who had olive trees and every morning he would get up, get dressed and go out to attend to his trees. One day when the trees matured, and the olives were ripe, the soldiers came to take the trees but the grandfather and his grandchildren held hands to form a ring around the trees to protect them. When I asked how the story ended, I was told that was the end and when I asked if that was kind of scary for the children, I was told that probably some had already witnessed something similar.

And so it is living in an occupied land. Destruction and/or confiscation of property, checkpoints, or closing of roads for an Israeli holiday. Children snatched from their homes and thrown in prison, parents late for work and children late for school because of the checkpoints. But there is hope that maybe someday there can be peace and equality in this land.

* * * * *

From Kay Woike: I recently had the privilege to go on an 11 day study trip to the Middle East sponsored by One Great Hour of Sharing and Week of Compassion. Led by Peter Makari, Global Ministries Area Executive for the Middle East and Europe and Phyllis Richards, Associate for Global Sharing of Resources, we had the opportunity to meet with global ministries partners and experience some of the projects supported by OGHS and Week of Compassion in Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Morocco. We we were warmly welcomed wherever we went by hopeful, resilient people eager to share their stories.  You can view a blog of our trip by clicking here . While some are hesitant to visit this part of the world because of news coverage of random acts of violence, I always felt completely safe. I would encourage anyone interested in visiting the Middle East to check out group educational travel opportunities at www.globalministries.org/trip_calendar .
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