the weekly emailing
Unity in Diversity
By Sir John Hargrave, a member of The Wellesley Congregational (Village) Church

I've always thought Paul showed a sense of humor when he wrote that passage about "many parts, one body" in his letter to the Corinthians. "In this body," I imagine him writing in an early draft of the letter, "we are each a part. One of you, and I won't name names, is a pain in one of my body parts."
If you get to choose your part of the body, most of us would like to be the eye, or the mouth, or the heart. Few of us would choose to be the spleen. The gallbladder is not in high demand. Nobody wants to be the butt of jokes, much less the butt of the body of Christ.

Read more about the Together, As One proposal 
MA Faith Leaders Stand Against Transgender Discrimination
The following was submitted by The Rev. Tom O'Brien on behalf of Freedom Massachusetts. He is Pastor and Teacher at Memorial Congregational Church UCC in Sudbury.

Last week, we were ready to speak out forcefully against any executive order that would have discriminated against LGBT people. In the end, what we got was more insidious-an order that sends a signal that discrimination is OK-and that faith should be used to justify it.

This order is only the latest instance in a long history of public figures twisting religious teachings to justify advancing a discriminatory political agenda. Now, here in Massachusetts, where a 2018 ballot initiative seeks to repeal our state's non-discrimination law, this rhetoric is targeting our transgender friends, coworkers and neighbors.

As a pastor and the father of a transgender son, this disturbs me. Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom, and it should be praised and protected as such. But religion cannot and should not be used as a weapon to discriminate.

Marlborough Churches Join to Commemorate 500th Anniversary of Reformation
Three congregations in Marlborough - First Church in Marlborough (Congregational) UCC, St. Stephen Lutheran Church 
and Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church - are joining together to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with worship, a service project and a concert on June 3.

"While honoring our theological differences, we also affirm what we all hold in Common: One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism," said First Church Pastor Kazimierz Bem. "Hence, we will begin with an ecumenical service led by the three pastors where we will all renew our Baptismal vows. Then we will offer a meal to anyone in Marlborough during the 'Feeding of 500' event. Finally, the day will end with a joint concert of all the choirs and hand bell choirs of all the three churches."

Bem explains that there are commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation taking place all over the world throughout 2017. 

"While many people think of the Reformation as only a Lutheran-Catholic thing, in fact, the historical Reformed churches (Presbyterian, Congregational, Dutch, French, Swiss Reformed) have been very active in the 500 anniversary celebrations," he said. "This July, the General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches - of which the United Church of Christ is a member -  will sign-on to the Joint Catholic-Reformed Declaration on Justification during a special service in Wittenberg, Germany. The Marlborough event is a a part of this larger Lutheran-Catholic-Reformed dialogue and cooperation, and we hope, a grassroots event of local ecumenical cooperation."
Super Saturday Workshop Proposals Being Accepted
Workshop Proposals are now being accepted for the October 21 Super Saturday event at Keefe  Technical Regional High School in Framingham.

If you would like to share concepts and practices you've developed that are changing your congregation or community's mission and ministry, we invite you to consider submitting a workshop proposal.  As a workshop leader, your registration will be free.  

Proposals are due by May 31.

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.

Learn More

Featured Event
June 7 - 8
Miramar Retreat Center, Duxbury

This overnight  retreat, led by Matt Carriker and Susie Allen, is intended for people in all stages on the spiritual path (clergy and lay).  Whether you feel like a beginner, or a long-time traveler, you will find nourishment here for your soul. 
Upcoming Conference events
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)

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)

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.
with Kent Siladi (Connecticut Conference Minister), Corey Sanderson (Massachusetts Conference Board member), and Barbara Libby (Interim Rhode Island Conference Minister)

Authorized Ministry Luncheon
June 16, 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Hartford Marriott Downtown

This luncheon, a pre-meeting event to the Tri-Conference Annual Meeting, is an opportunity for authorized ministers, lay leaders and others to gather and share time in community with UCC General Minister & President John Dorhauer.

Registration Deadline is June 5
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.
June 21, 2017 at 5:30 to 9:00 PM
Edwards House Meeting Center, Framingham
Beverly Weinhold will offer a presentation from a nationally recognized, evidence,informed sexual abuse prevention curriculum created by Darkness to Light.

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 

Application deadline: Sat., June 10
Event: Nov. 13 - 19
Warren Conference Center, Ashland
Join author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in a writing workshop focused on both the craft of writing and the vocation of tending to words for the sake of faithful social change.

See more at:
Local Buzz
SPOTLIGHT: Safe Plates at Waquoit Congregational Church

Following the election, many churches sensed there was a need to support people who were feeling vulnerable and find ways to help them feel safe.  So when two local businesswomen approached Rev. Nell Fields, Minister of the Waquoit Congregational Church in East Falmouth to ask her about hosting a dinner in the church hall to benefit local groups that promote safety and acceptance, Fields agreed.

Laura Higgins-Baltzley, a well-known award-winning chef and owner of a local restaurant, and Annie Konner-Higgins, owner of a neighboring vegetable farm and bakery, prepared a comfort food buffet, while the church staged and served the "Safe Plates" dinner. The women felt this was their way to bring positive light to the community and alleviate some of the negative feelings they and others were feeling as a result of recent political tension.

They planned for 200 people, saw a great response from their promotions, and decided to increase their supplies to feed 300, but that still wasn't enough.  They started running out of food before the end of the evening.

The Rev. Paul Victor Varga, retired United Church of Christ (UCC) minister and former pastor of the Belchertown United Church of Christ, died on May 15, 2017. 

The Rev. Varga was active in the wider church, having served as as Moderator of both the Hampshire Association and Metropolitan Boston Association, attending general Synods of the UCC in Omaha, Boston, and St. Louis as a delegate, and training 400 volunteers for the 1991 General Synod in Norfolk, VA.  
Other Events of Interest
July 9 - 12 
Simmons College, Boston
This biannual conference seeks to nourish, inspire, and sustain church musicians.  Attendees have the opportunity to sing in choir and play hand bells with incredible conductors; to worship in a variety of styles with our dedicated clergy partners; to learn in master classes, workshops, and reading sessions; and to be energized by concerts and fellowship with peers. 
May 25, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
South Congregational Church, Springfield

June 11, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Congregation B'nai Israel, Northampton

June 11 - 13
Craigville Retreat Center
June 12 - 13
First Church and Parish, Dedham

Carbon Pollution Pricing Lobby Day
June 13
Mass. Statehouse, Boston

June 30 - July 4
The First Church, Nashua, NH

July 10 - 14
Craigville Retreat Center, Craigville, MA

The Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ