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Do You See What I See?

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From the Vision and Transition Team


After long weeks of waiting, we celebrated the miraculous birth of the Christ child!  Soon the wise ones will arrive, bearing gifts for the child and sharing their visions of what is to come.  We, too, have been travelers on a journey, working to discern a vision for South Church.  After Carlos accepted his new pastorate in Pelham, Reverend Sean Dunker-Bendigo joined us to shepherd the congregation through the visioning and transition process.  We began by sharing stories of our history, then discussed important questions about who we are and who we want to be as a community of faith.  Many of you attended one of the small group conversations or shared your thoughts online.  Thank you!  The Vision and Transition Committee has compiled the notes from these gatherings and surveys, and they are now available for your review.  Check out the summary here.


Once we gathered all of your comments, the Committee looked for common threads.  We each created lists of action items, needs, values, and identity words based on what you shared with us.  Then, we prayerfully used these lists to create statements of our church’s mission, vision, and values.  We are very excited to share these with you and hope you see your dreams and aspirations for South Church reflected in these statements.


Our Mission: We are living examples of radical hope and extravagant love, connecting our community with God and with each other.


Our Vision: We will create opportunities for spiritual growth, build a welcoming community of diverse relationships, serve our neighbors, and work for a just world.


Our Values: We value:


      Active involvement in our greater community

      The need to spark spiritual growth and creativity

      Being welcoming and open to all people

      Nurturing each person’s faith journey

      Advancing social justice issues

      Intergenerational worship and activities

      Faithful stewardship of our resources in support of our Mission and Vision


So what happens next?  In the coming weeks, you can expect to hear more about these statements.  Members of the Vision and Transition team will engage with the various ministries and committees to discuss how these statements fit in with their work.  We will discuss them with our young people during youth group meetings and church school.  We also invite you to think about what these statements mean to you as a member of our faith community.  What actions can we take individually and collectively to put feet to our faith?  Watch for opportunities to discuss these statements and their implications in the coming weeks.  You can also reach out to any member of the Vision and Transition Committee if you have questions or thoughts about the mission, vision, and values statements.  Following this brief period of discussion and discernment, we will have a special congregational meeting at the end of February to accept and approve these statements.  


We understand that you may be eager to begin the search for a second pastor, but it is essential that we systematically work through each part of this transition process.  Once we have agreed on our mission, vision, and values, we can move on to the next step, which is determining our pastoral and staffing needs for the future.  As always, we will be asking for your input.  


Thank you to everyone who has taken an active role in this process.  Together, we are the church, and each voice matters.


In faith,

The Vision and Transition Committee

Sean Dunker-Bendigo, Peter Imse, Chip Morgan, Jill Smart, Leanne Tigert, Sara Willingham, Pam Young, & Janet Zeller 

South Church

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An Invitation to the Congregation


We, the members of the Racial Justice Action Group, have been meeting frequently in the year and a half since the murder of George Floyd; reading, thinking, and praying about how South Church can respond faithfully to the emboldened spirit of racism, racial inequity, and white supremacy in our nation. We believe that South Church should move towards designation as a Racial Justice Church of the United Church of Christ. To this end, the following resolution will be referred to the Church Council for presentation and ratification at our Annual Meeting in June.


"We, the members of South Congregational, United Church of Christ in Concord, NH resolve to be a Racial Justice Church, as a Christian congregation we believe that every human being has value as a beloved creation of God. According to scripture:


  • God said, “Let us bring forth humanity in our image, according to our likeness...” 
  • “God blessed them. God saw all he had made. It was very good.” (Gen.1:26 - 31)         
  • “You shall love your neighbor as Yourself” (Matt. 22:39)             
  • “There is no longer Jew or Gentile; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus;” (Gal. 3:27-28)   


As a congregation that proclaims, "radical hope and extravagant love," we see the need to dismantle all barriers to full inclusion and to welcome and support all people, including those with differing appearances, identities, cultures, traditions, and geographical origins. This is an initiative we believe lies at the heart of our mission as an Open & Affirming church. In order to engage the congregation as fully as possible in preparation for voting on the resolution, we ask you to join us in a three-month period of study, reflection, and conversation on issues of racial justice. We will do this in facilitated small group conversations during February, March, and April.


The first phase of this process will serve as a general introduction to the topics of systemic racism and white privilege. The action group has identified several engaging resources for us to study independently before convening for small group discussions. Even for those who have already been grappling with racial justice issues, it will be helpful to discuss what we have absorbed from these resources, hear other points of view, and identify opportunities for personal growth and action. More details to follow. We are eager to engage in this conversation with you! We have work to do. 

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Moment for Mission


During the month of January, the Faith in Action Ministry has chosen to support the Merrimack Valley Day Care Center.  The center has provided accessible and affordable childcare to the Concord community for more than 50 years.  It has grown to five centers providing care for 250 children ranging from six weeks to 12 years old.  Its mission is to provide quality care for those who need it most: children at risk of abuse or neglect; low-income families; and children with special needs.


Despite the many struggles presented by Covid, the center has remained open throughout the pandemic so that essential workers can go to work.  They opened a food pantry at their Fruit Street site to help families who could not make ends meet.  And they coordinated with the Friendly Kitchen to disperse evening meals to the community at their Eagle’s Bluff site.


In addition to providing children with opportunities to make friends, learn, and grow; the center also provides healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.  Through its sponsorship of the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program, it helps more than 50 childcare providers in the greater Concord area provide healthy food to the children in their care.


During the month of January, we will be collecting much needed items, including:


  • Tissues
  • Diapers (sizes 3, 4 & 5 are needed the most)
  • Paper towels
  • Baby wipes
  • Adult masks
  • Trucks for sandbox play (new or gently used)
  • Baby dolls, especially multicultural ones (new or gently used)
  • My Little Ponies (The kids LOVE them, new or gently used)
  • Towels (new or gently used)
  • Gas or grocery cards for parents who are struggling



A donation box will be placed in the side entrance of the church by the parking lot. Thank you for your continued support.

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Sacred Allied Quilt Ministry


This powerful and moving exhibit is on display at NOW to Sunday, January 9 during the following hours:  Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  You do not need reservations to view the display, it is free and open to the public.  We do ask that you wear a mask and social distance.

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Memorial Service


Rev. Jerry Rardin's Memorial Service will be streamed live on Saturday, January 8 at 2 p.m. Check out this is the link to watch it virtually.

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Worship Schedule


Happy New Year!  We have returned to a single, hybrid worship service every Sunday at 9 a.m. through the month of March.  While we will be in-person, the link to our services will be on our website.  Stay safe and stay connected. 

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Epiphany Tableau


This year we will performing Once Upon a Manger on Sunday, January 9 during the 9 a.m. worship service.  The children will bring the story of the birth of Jesus to life.  This performance has a role for everyone, including members of the congregation!  Guided by storytellers and carols, the children will tell the beloved story of Jesus’ birth.

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Tree Trimming & Removal


The Property Stewardship Ministry is in the process of retaining a tree service to trim and remove some trees around the church. One of the trees which is beginning to impinge on the building is the large spruce by the parking lot entrance to the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall. The ministry is considering removing this tree because it is blocking light and the visibility of the newly refurbished stain glass windows. Before they make a final decision, the ministry is soliciting congregational input to determine if this tree was planted as a memorial, has sentimental value, or if there is some reason to consider keeping it. Please email Will Delker  or Kayla Pingree if you have any input into this decision.

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Service of Remembrance


Due to concerns about Covid, this year's Service of Remembrance has been cancelled.  In lieu of a service, we invite anyone who wishes to hold a loved one in memory to send us a "selfie"' of you holding a picture of the one(s) you wish to remember or a photo of your loved to us.  We will incorporate it into a photo collage/viedo that will be published soon.  It has taken longer than anticipated to gather the information, so please be patient.  We have extended the deadline to Friday, January 14.  Please email your photos to Alison.  

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A Note from the Giving Ministry


Many of our members are paying their pledges and making gifts to the church from their investment accounts, for which we are very grateful. This is particularly common with our Senior members who donate directly from their Retirement Accounts. However we often find that the investment account check arrives without identifying who is making the payment, so that we are unable to acknowledge the gift or credit it toward your pledge.  For example, we have recently received a generous check from Ameriprise Financial (8/29/21) and we don't know who to thank!  Because of confidentiality requirements the financial institution will not tell us who the payment is from. If you believe that you may be responsible for this payment, please contact Kayla.  And everyone, please arrange for the proper identification of all gifts and payments made through investment accounts.  Thank you so much for your generous stewardship!

The UCC Community

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Webinar


Getting Congress to Act:

Strategies, Tactics, and Vision for 2022

Wednesday, January 12 at 1 p.m. ET


Frederick Douglass once said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."  The next Creation Justice Webinar will focus on the art and craft of making a demand.  Specifically, we will focus on how people of faith can best organize themselves to place pressure on Congress to act in 2022.  For insight and guidance, we will turn to three panelists with local and national experience as organizers: the Rev. A. Kazimir Brown from the Poor People's Campaign, the Rev. Chibuzo Nimmo Petty from For Our Future, and Kim McMurray from Indivisible.  Register now!

So much to be Thankful for

From the Faith in Action Ministry


The Faith in Action Ministry wants you to know that each month when you put money in the offering plate designated for the Monthly Mission or click "pay" on the website, you are part of something important.  The total dollars collected this way may not be huge, but they are helpful to the recipients.  They are also meaningful as a reminder that we are a church not only in name and place, but in ACTION. 


So far this year we have forwarded the following amounts to grateful recipients. (The collected amounts are rounded up to an even number using Faith in Action Ministry discretionary funds.)


  • July and August: $1,100 to the UCC Neighbors in Need fund
  • September: $500 to the UCC Strengthen the Church
  • October:  $300 to the NH Food Bank
  • November: $500 to the South Church Relief Society Endowment Fund
  • December: $900 from discretionary funds to the UCC Christmas Fund 


In December we also made available "Alternative Christmas Gifts" to three different organizations:


  • Ascentria, which helps with refugee resettlement here in Concord.
  • Danita's Children, which serves orphans and others in storm-and violence-beleaguered Haiti.
  • Save the Children, which works around the world in the places where it is toughest to be a child. 


We'll report on that after Christmas.  If you gave one of these gifts and have a story to tell about how it was received, email Susan Hatem at susanh8m@gmail.com


Thank you, South Church.

Peggy Scott, Pauline Simonton, Susan Hatem & Patty Fahey

From the Genesis Circle


The Genesis Circle would like to thank those who generously donated to their “Bakeless Bakesale” fundraiser in November.  They raised about $430.  Your generous donation will help the Genesis Circle continue their important work and support South Church. 

From the Family Promise


We would like to offer a huge thank you to everyone who so generously donated food and shelter for Family Promise the week of December 19.  The team was overwhelmed by the outpouring of donations.  We were able to provide gas cards and gift cards to the families allowing us to donate to Family Promise graduates from the program. 


Our guests were thankful for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so all those efforts to cook delicious meals; to coordinate food drop offs; navigate inclement weather; and juggle emails were well worth it in the end!  We could not have done this without your support. 


Be on the lookout in the coming months for updates about the families in the program and plans for our next host week (May 8 through 15).  If you are interested in joining our coordinating team, we would love to have you.  We have had several years of working together and our team is ready to grow.  Please email Dina if you are interested! 


Wishing you and yours a very Happy 2022!  May it be a year of good health and peace for us and for all the families we work to support.


In Gratitude, Dina, Nancy Jo, Meredith, Peggy, and Cindy

(The Temple Beth Jacob/South Church Family Promise Team)