Community News
Feeding the Neighborhood
IKC Neighbors Address Food Insecurity
By Nikki Shaw,
Director of Communications

It started with love of neighbor and 20 food packs. The Weekender program at Friedens UCC in Indianapolis launched in 2013 when the congregation became aware of increasing food insecurity on the weekends among school-aged children at a local Perry Township elementary school. Today, this ministry provides 76 Food Packs each week for that same elementary school and the Perry Township Early Preschool Academy.

Why this ministry? Changing demographics in the township—primarily an influx of immigrants from Burma/Myanmar and elsewhere, as well as decreasing incomes among township residents—have meant some children go home on weekends without enough food to eat. Because Friedens UCC knows that a neighborhood extends beyond the doors of the church, they endeavored to partner with these schools and others to meet the increasing need of a hungry community. The Weekenders ministry relies on the vital relationship between volunteers at Friedens and neighbors who donate food, time, talent, and funds to sustain this ministry.

“Recently, a Christian (Disciples of Christ) congregation, which is between buildings, has been using our kitchen and fellowship hall for a monthly luncheon gathering. They have been very generous by bringing food items every month for this ministry. A few local businesses have provided gift cards and nearly-expired food items,” says Keith Phillips, who heads up Weekenders at Friedens. The larger UCC community, through a Neighbors in Need grant, has provided about 5% of the program’s funds since the beginning of the ministry. “Our collaboration is paramount.” Phillips says.

The rewards for loving the neighbor (and patterning with the neighbor!) are more than can be measured in full bellies and grant funding. Phillips recalls one snowy Friday, “I caught word that our township schools were closing two hours early . . . loaded up dozens of individual food packs, and drove to the two schools. The office staff at the elementary school was so very pleased to see me; and as they helped me unload the car, one of them said, ‘You don’t know how important these bags of food are. I hate to think about what our students would have done this weekend, if you had not come with them. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’”

This year at annual gathering, we hope to explore that God-ordained community connection, the relationships God and Christ implore us to seek for the betterment of all of God’s beloved community—the Weekenders story is just one example of the work our member congregations are doing as neighbors. As Phillips notes, “We are the body of Christ in this place. We are not alone in ministry. We need our neighbors.”

Keep an eye on your inbox and our Facebook page for more stories of "Feeding the Neighborhood." Click the button below to joins us at Friedens UCC for Annual Gathering 2019 where you can meet some of these mission-minded neighbors.
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” 
Luke 10:36-37 (NRSV)
MID Spotlight

Abigale Embry-Kentuckiana Association

I graduated from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (LPTS) in December 2018. I began online at Lexington Theological Seminary when I lived in Berea, and transferred to LPTS when I moved to Louisville. While in Berea, I spent time roaming the building of Union Church doing whatever kind of “church” work I could find such as leading Bible study, Vacation Bible School, preaching, pastoral care, worship design, and children’s choir. I closely watched Rev. Kent Gilbert and Rev. Rachel Small-Stokes as they led worship, communion, and church council meetings in order to learn from the best. In 2014 I did a parish based CPE unit over the summer with Leslie Small-Stokes which solidified my love for pastoral care and my desire to become a chaplain.

When I moved to Louisville I did my field education at St. Andrew United Church of Christ where I enjoyed preaching, worship team, and leading youth group and confirmation class. I enjoyed the stimulating theological discussions I was a part of everyday at seminary. The community I had there gave me the gift of friends in solidarity when I was tired of those theological discussions and needed to laugh and relax.

My path to becoming an MID was difficult as I was reluctant to leave the Roman Catholic Church but I also desired to be ordained. Leaving my beloved church community to join another in search of my gifts in ministry was scary and isolating. However, I soon realized I was not alone as my mentors and new friends at Union Church encouraged me along my path showing me a love of God I had never seen. When the Committee on Ministry sang the doxology to me after accepting my request to become an MID I truly felt welcomed and at home.

The United Church of Christ became the church home I had longed for and the community willing to allow me to fully express all I have to offer. Each year throughout my time as an MID I was challenged to fully recognize myself and to grow in my confidence. That was probably the most difficult thing for me to realize; that I was worthy of this role and that I was allowed to feel confident as a chaplain and pastor.

My hope for my future in ministry is to continue to accept challenges and to have many decades to come of diverse experiences in leading the church wherever it may go. While I do not seek to pastor a church at this time I am certainly not leaving that out for myself because I do love church work and I feel called to preach. Currently, I am a hospice chaplain. Chaplaincy has been the work of my heart and passion for several years. I hope to do a Clinical Pastoral Education residency within the next two years. I plan to become a CPE supervisor to teach other chaplains and to encourage the role of chaplain to stay permanent within clinical settings. In May, I am looking forward to will meeting with the Committee on Ministry to discuss my ordination paper and from there I hope to join together with my beloved family, mentors, and friends together in celebration of my ordination before the end of this year.
Webinar: Facing Your Church's Uncertain Future
May 2, 2019, 3:30-4:50 pm 

When your church’s future is uncertain, it’s time to have courageous conversations and make faithful decisions.  Facing Your Church’s Uncertain Future  is a NEW resource that offers good practices for discerning, discussing, and making decisions that concern a church’s future. Pastors and congregational leaders are invited to join this online zoom webinar presenting theological, liturgical and helpful insights for discussing future options, including closure and legacy. Webinar presenters are: Rev. Quentin Chin, author of the Worship Resources on Discernment, Decision-Making and Closure; and Rev. David Schoen, author of Facing Your Church's Uncertain Future: Helpful Practices for Courageous Conversations & Faithful Decisions. Registration includes option of receiving the new resource. Cost and more information at:
Announcing IKC Pastor Rev. Murphy's New Book!
Plymouth Congregational Church, Fort Wayne's Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Timothy Murphy shares a message of hope for "a shot at a better future for all," in his new book, Sustaining Hope in an Unjust World: How to Keep Going When You Want to Give Up . For more information about the upcoming book launch, click here .
UCC Forum this Fall in Germany
September 4-14, 2019
Church Synod of Westphalia, Germany

The UCC Forum this fall will take place at the wonderful Conference Center Haus Villigst near Schwerte, south of Dortmund. The working theme is “Making Room,” exploring the opportunities and challenges of changing congregational worship and mission. Our own Conference Minister, Chad Abbott, will present a paper, reflecting his perceptions regarding this theme in relation to our conference.

The group is looking to organize a trip to Berlin in addition to the trip to the forum. For more details and how to convey your interest in attending, click here .
Two Options for UCC History and Polity Courses
  • 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 in June/July 2019. The instructor will be Rev. David Gaewski, Conference Minister of the New York Conference, UCC. Classes will begin at 9:30am and end at 3:30pm EST on the following dates: June 8,15,29 and July 6. The platform utilized will be Zoom Video Conferencing ( The tuition will be $495. For more information contact course instructor, Rev. David Gaewski, at
Upcoming Events
ONA Coalition Workshops

Louisville, Kentucky
Workshop April 27
Spring Connection 2019

Youth Grades 6-12
Be Strong and Courageous 
For a complete list of our events below
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