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

Happenings Around Our Conference
My Thoughts
Rev. David Gaewski
Someone needs to say it, so I will.  And I know someone won't like this.  But if one only says things that everyone likes, one probably never says anything significant.  So here it is.
While there truly is great diversity among our UCC authorized ministers, it is fair to say that there is a predominance of ministers with a theologically liberal and a socially progressive world view.  It is also fair to say that UCC congregations are neither politically red nor blue. They are purple. And this fact has now caused a new level of stress for authorized ministers as well as for congregations. I have spoken with UCC colleagues all over the country who have told me the same thing: the stress level of clergy has very significantly risen since last November's election.
Why? Because Scripture texts that were never associated with a political agenda in the past, are now being labeled "political". "Welcome the stranger in your midst," for example.
I write these things for one reason. It is important for authorized ministers to be self-aware of their stress and to seek help for alleviating it. Whether or not you think of your conference staff as your pastors, we are here to help you strategize stress relief plans. Call us. Congregations, be self-aware that there exists today on a new level, an ideological stress within your church. If you discern that you need an outside ear, not only is your conference staff available to assist, but we also have a trained mediation team that we are able to call upon. Call us. Our purpose is to assist you and to equip you with the tools for  healthy vital ministry.
Finally, despite the intensity of a time such as this, despite the real fear and pain that some are experiencing today, keep perspective that God is the alpha and the omega. It's ultimately going to be alright.
Be well,
"To equip the saints."

Rev. David Gaewski
Conference Minister  Twitter: @davidgaewski1
New and Right Spirit:
Understanding race, racism, and white privilege

On Ash Wednesday the one day New and Right Spirit campaign will go viral. New and Right Spirit will fund a special effort within New York to intentionally engage communities throughout our state in conversations about racial divisions that persist in our culture. These will be engaging and safe opportunities to expand our understanding of the ways in which racial divisions challenge us. To have a conversation such as this, we need highly trained facilitators. This is what the one day New and Right Spirit campaign will fund.
So, on Ash Wednesday, check your email, check your Facebook, check your Twitter feed, and go to: Please make a donation. Please share all the links on Ash Wednesday
New and Right Spirit

Congregational Development Workshop:
From Membership 2 Discipleship
Saturday, April 1
First Congregational Church of Albany
485 Quail Street, Albany, NY
In this workshop you will learn how to differentiate Discipleship from Christian Education, how to identify catalysts and build relationships that lead to spiritual growth and how build an intentional Discipleship Process for personal and congregational transformation. The workshop facilitation is Dr. Phil Maynard, author of the book Shift:  Helping Congregations Back Into the Game of Effective Ministry.
Cost:  Individual  $25.00
Churches with Attendees of five (5) or more:  $100.00
(The Above Cost Includes Lunch, a workbook for each participant, and a complimentary copy of the book:  Membership to Discipleship:  Growing Maturing Disciples Who Make Disciples by Phil Maynard)
Questions:  Please contact Rev. Freeman Palmer, Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development at
Staff Transitions

We regret to inform the conference that Patti Rodrigues, our conference bookkeeper, has resigned from her position. We are happy for Patti that she has accepted a full time position with Onondaga County. We express our sincere gratitude for Patti's years of service. Her last day will be February 28th.
The Conference is now looking to fill a Syracuse based part-time (20 hrs/wk) bookkeeper position. Responsibilities include data entry, as well as computations, classifications, and postings of primary financial data to ensure complete and accurate financial information. We are seeking someone with excellent computer and interpersonal skills. (Microsoft Office use essential, Shelby financial and database experience a plus) Attention to detail and accuracy are essential.
The New York UCC is a not-for-profit church organization. We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status or any other class or status protected by law.
Have you entered your church data yet?

Now is the time to enter your 2016 data into the national church data base. This will insure your church is accurately represented in the National UCC Yearbook.

While it is important to record numbers in the pews and monies in and out, last year, two new categories were introduced into Yearbook reporting:

Community Engagement and Total Church Participants . We began asking churches to begin tracking some outputs. Like how many lives were touched by the ministries of a congregation. For instance, how many from the community attend your spaghetti dinner, or how many are involved in the groups that use your building? How many people looked to the church and its minister for current and future pastoral needs? How reaching is the ministry you do, not just on Sunday morning, but all through the year?

Your treasure is not just in your bank account. It is also in the ministry you do!

Please be sure to share how your mission has been lived out within your local communities and the world. All data must be entered by March 8th. If you haven't received the instruction sheet please download it here or contact the conference office at . Our goal is 100% participation. Thank you!
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

Do you need:
Support and encouragement in your ministry
Nurture of your individual practices of spiritual discipline
Authentic relationships with other ministers
Engagement in ongoing theological reflection and study
A place to share your ministry concerns and life challenges?
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
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 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..
Support the New York Conference
Covenant Share

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.

Click to Learn More and Support:
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What's Happening at Your Local Church?

Do you have an item of news that you would like to share throughout the New York Conference? Please email our Communications Coordinator at and send the details - preferably with links and pictures!
Please note that the New York Conference does not publish news related to fundraisers.
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