the weekly emailing
South Church's Decision to Offer Sanctuary
By the Rev. Tom Gerstenlauer
Pastor of South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA

Hospitality and love of neighbor; ours is a faith tradition that clearly favors welcome over rejection.  These are values at the core of our faith.  As it was for Abram, Moses, Jesus and those who would follow him, so it is for us.  In these times, we must open our doors to those who are oppressed by the burden of fear and persecution.  At South Congregational United Church of Christ in Springfield the strangers in need among us will be welcome to take shelter and receive, to the best of our ability, the hospitality of this community of faith and our partners.

Read more about South Church's decision to become a Sanctuary Church, and about the varied responses they've received from the community.
Synod Wrap-up

More than 50 people from the Massachusetts Conference attended the United Church of Christ General Synod June 30 - July 4 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Among the business conducted, delegates passed two resolutions that had been backed by the Conference. 
United Church of Christ Declares a New Moral Era

By The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal
Massachusetts Conference Minister and President

It was a big claim: "Imperatives for a New Moral Era." 
It was a big ask: to "resist all expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and demand new sources of renewable energy that are accessible to all communities" and to write a new story for America - "a story that is not dependent on fossil fuel or on wealth for the few and misery for the many."
It demands that the church itself "bear witness."  Unlike so many resolutions passed at Church gatherings, instead of criticizing the injustice of others, this resolution is directed to the church and its members, asking them to "prayerfully engage" three imperatives by taking action. 

W.P.W. Three Great Loves & A Just World for All

By the Rev. John White
Pastor at First Congregational Church of Dudley, MA

W.P.W. is my sermon title for my first Sunday back in the pulpit following General Synod 2017, the biennial meeting of the entire United Church of Christ (UCC).  Can you guess what it means?  Take a minute.  Give up?
There's a baptism within our church family this coming Sunday, does that help?  
W.P.W. isn't an acronym; it's the initials of a person's name, two month old Wyatt Paul Walker.  On Sunday Wyatt's wonderful parents will bring this child to the front of our sanctuary during worship.  They'll make promises on Wyatt's behalf, to encourage this child to "renounce the powers of evil and desire the freedom of new life in Christ." 

Property Taxes, the First Amendment, and Your Church
By the Rev. Dr. Jonathan New
Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship and Financial Development 

We frequently receive inquiries from churches about property taxation of church real estate. However, a recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) may spark more interest in this subject from church leaders concerned about upholding First Amendment rights and keeping their tax liability as low as possible.

Towns have long had the authority to tax church property other than its house of worship and parsonage, as well as the right to tax such things as pro-rated taxes on classrooms rented to day care centers, steeples housing cell phone antennae, and parish halls leased to community organizations.  However, with pressures on town budgets, more local tax assessors may look to church properties as potential sources of increased tax revenue. 

The Parish Paper: How Can We Help Immigrants?
The Parish Paper
July, 2017 Edition

A new church member-a recent African immigrant-described what his Christian mother taught him: "When someone comes to you and needs food and shelter, you give it to them. The next day you can ask them: What is your story?" The immigrant story touches every community and congregations have always welcomed newcomers. Typically, one in ten people attending a worship service in the US are immigrants-they were born outside the US. Further, one in five worshipers are children of immigrants because one or both of their parents were born in another country.
Get Ready for Sunday School

If you need some assistance and/or inspiration to jump-start your Christian Education programs for the new year, consider attending a free webinar offered by PRC - Practical Resources for Churches on August 10, 2017 at 7 PM.

Considering a new curriculum? Read this post for some suggestions.
Upcoming Conference events
Aug. 10, 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Online Webinar
Do you need a crash course in how to kick off your Christian Education programs? Join us as we discuss an effective schedule for communications, programming, staffing, facility maintenance, and administrative duties.

Sept. 21, at 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Edwards House Meeting Center, Framingham
All clergy who have joined the conference within the last year, or were unable to attend last year, are invited to attend and meet fellow clergy.
Sept. 27-29; Nov. 8-10, Jan. 3-5
Trinity United Methodist Church, Springfield
Tending the Fire helps clergy "think systems" in their congregations and their personal lives, so they can lead change that lasts. Participants must attend all three retreats.

Boundary Awareness Training
October 4 - 5
Pakachoag Church, Auburn
Level 1 Boundary Awareness Training (BAT) for anyone that needs to complete this requirement. 

Nov. 9 - 11
Craigville Camp & Conference Center
Two day retreat intended for youth grades six and up. This is not a confirmation retreat.

See more at:
Other Events of Interest
Aug. 25 - 27
First Congregational Church of Milton
A two-day training event to equip pastors and lay leaders with skills that help them to reduce anxiety in their interpersonal relationships, thus allowing congregations to function in healthier ways.
Oct. 15, 1:30 to 5:30 PM
First Church of Christ in Longmeadow
Clergy, lay leaders, building & creation care committee members invited to attend sponsored by Mass. Interfaith Power & Light.
The Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ