February 2023 E-Newsletter
2023 UCC Yearbook - March 1 Deadline
United Church of Christ

It is time to submit information for your church to the UCC Yearbook. The Conference office is doing a BIG push to have our churches submit their yearly information. Unfortunately, our Conference is one of the lowest in participation across the denomination. In case you were unaware:
  1. Your church's 501(c)3 status is dependent on a current updated listing in the UCC Yearbook.
  2. When your church is searching for a Pastor you will need current and updated data which comes from the UCC Yearbook. If no reports have been submitted for your church for five (5) years, all data reverts to zeros. 

Linked below are documents from the National UCC office to help you get started:

Data Hub closes to churches on March 1st. Thank you for all your hard work in collecting and reporting. Your participation is the ONLY way our records are kept up-to-date. If you need help, please contact Naomi in the Conference Office (708-344-4470).
Illinois Background Check Delays

The following message below is from Elizabeth Dilley regarding a current delay with Illinois State background checks.

I’m writing today to let you know that Oxford Document Management is experiencing a significant delay from the Illinois statewide records check with regard to ministerial background checks. (To be clear, the delay is coming from the Illinois State Police, not Oxford’s staff.) This is how the matter was explained to me: When possible hits come back for a subject’s name, the search then goes into a quality control process during which time any possible records/information is fully reviewed for accuracy. Also, COVID protocols were implemented by the state which also impacted the turn around times on their review. They are running approximately 60-70 business days (excluding weekends and court holidays), although some requests can take longer. Unfortunately, there is no way to expedite this process with the IL State Police.

AUTHORIZED MINISTERS AND MIDS: You will likely need to account for this delay in the preparation of your profiles. When possible, you should submit your request to Oxford at the start of your process (rather than towards the end, which has been an informally recommended practice for a long time).
General Synod Registration is Open!

General Synod 34 will take place June 30 - July 4, 2023 in Indianapolis and registration is officially open for delegates and guests! Learn more here.
Fight for Reproductive Justice
UCC Justice & Peace Action Network

We recently marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade which guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion. This was the first anniversary since the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization fundamentally changing access to abortion in the U.S. and overturning Roe. We are now ensnared in an ongoing struggle for the right to self-determination, and the ability for people with uteruses to have a say over their own bodies.

As a justice-seeking people, we must remain committed to preserving and protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care for all – including legal abortion – as an imperative rooted in our deeply-held faith beliefs in social justice, moral agency, and religious liberty for all. Please contact your member of Congress to ask them to introduce and support legislation protecting an individual’s right to access abortion and the full range of reproductive healthcare access.
The Illinois Conference Outdoor Ministries is making lots of things happen in 2023! Registration for this year's camps and retreats is officially open! There are still six slots available for Clergy Praycations. And if you are planning to attend this year's Festival of Homiletics, you can share the experience with other Illinois Conference folks at Tower Hill. Check out these upcoming opportunities below!
Registration for the 2023 camps and retreats for youth and adults is now open! Want to know what is being offered this year? Click here to see all of the dates, descriptions, and costs.
Clergy Praycations offer our authorized ministers and MIDs an opportunity to step out of the ordinary and into the sacred for 3 days/2 nights for only $60. Call Pilgrim Park or Tower Hill to schedule yours today!
Join colleagues and friends at Tower Hill to participate in the Festival of Homiletics virtually as a group. Led by Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel and Rev. Dr. Shawnthea Monroe.
Upcoming Events
Leadership Matters Lecture
Tuesday, January 31, 6:00-8:00 PM
Damascus Project

The Wisconsin Conference UCC and the Damascus Project invite Illinois Conference clergy and laity to their Leadership Matters lecture series event Tuesday, January 31, from 6-8 pm via Zoom. Phiwa Langeni, the United Church of Christ’s first Ambassador for Innovation and Engagement will share their thoughts about the types and forms of leadership needed at this time in Christian History. We hope you will join us for what we are certain will be an inspiring and challenging evening. The cost to attend is only $10.

Note: You must be registered to attend this lecture or to receive a recording of it. We are not able to make recordings of this lecture available to those who do not register. Click here to register online.

Mark your calendars for the next lecture with Rev. Cameron Trimble of Convergence, Tuesday October 3, 6-8pm.
The Indigenous Land Back Movement
Wednesday, February 8 @ 12 PM CST
United Church of Christ

The Land Back Movement has been succinctly described as the generations long struggle to put “Indigenous lands back into Indigenous hands.” In this webinar, organizers and practitioners within the movement will place the struggle within the context of dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery and the ongoing work of reparatory justice. Speakers will include Katerina Gea from the Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery, Angie Comeaux from Hummingbird Springs Farm, and Sarah Augustine who authored “The Land Is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.” Even if you cannot make the webinar at its scheduled time on February 8th at 12:00 p.m. CST, sign up anyway, and we will send you a link to the recording. Register here.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Wednesday, February 8 @ 6 PM CST

Join the Rev. Jeff Nelson, MESA’s Minister for Ministerial Calls and Transitions, for a conversation that includes some resources, practices, and theological reflection for helping Authorized Ministers discern whether their season of ministry in a particular setting is coming to a close. Register online here.
Kenneth B. Smith Lecture
Thursday, February 9 @ 5:15 PM
Chicago Theological Seminary

Don't miss out! The 2023 Kenneth B. Smith Lecture will be held IN-PERSON at Church of the Good Shepherd (5700 S Prairie Ave, Chicago, IL 60637)! This year's event will feature the investiture of Dr. JoAnne Marie Terrell as the Kenneth B. Smith Professor of Public Ministry and Associate Professor of Theology, Ethics, and the Arts, as well as a lecture by Dr. Terrell. Beginning with a networking reception at 5:15 p.m. in the lower level of the church, the lecture and investiture program will begin at 6:00 p.m. Register here!

Dr. JoAnne Marie Terrell is a womanist theologian, Kenneth B. Smith, Sr. Professor of Public Ministry, and Associate Professor of Theology, Ethics, and the Arts. She is the author of Power in the Blood? The Cross in the African-American Experience. Professor Terrell’s current research interests are interreligious in scope, and focus on soteriological principles in Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity, the genre of spiritual autobiography, and the power of the visual and performing arts to affect personal, social, and cosmic transformation.
Rural Ministries National Gathering
February 9-11, Virtual
United Church of Christ

The Coalition for UCC Rural Ministries presents "Nourishing the Seeds of Faith" (Isaiah 55:10-11) - a virtual national gathering of rural/small town churches and ministries in the United Church of Christ. This is event is hosted by Faith INFO (Faith Education, Innovation & Formation) and the Justice & Local Church Ministry of the UCC. Target audience: Rural/Small Town congregational leaders and pastors, UCC National, Conference and Association staffs, seminarians, ecumenical partners and anyone interested in rural/small town church ministry. The cost is only $25/person. Learn more and register online here.
Christian Nationalism Lecture
Tuesday, April 11 @ 7:30 PM
Elmhurst University

SAVE THE DATE! On Tuesday, April 11, the UCC General Minister and President, Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer will be addressing "Christian Nationalism" in a lecture at Elmhurst University. More details are forth coming. Until then, mark your calendars for this event you won't want to miss!
February Calendar at a Glance
Ordinations, Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils
None currently scheduled for February.
Events in the Illinois Conference & Beyond
Jan 31: Damascus Project Leadership Matters Lecture with Phiwa Langeni. 6:00-8:00 p.m. via Zoom. Registration required.
Feb 8: The Land Back Movement Webinar. 12:00 p.m. CST via Zoom.
Feb 8: Should I Stay or Should I Go? MESA Webinar. 6:00 p.m. CST via Zoom.
Feb 9: CTS Rev. Kenneth B. Smith Lecture. 5:15 p.m. at Church of the Good Shepherd. Registration required.
Feb 9-11: Nourishing the Seeds of Faith. Virtual event. Registration required.
Feb 24-25: Stronger Together Faith Formation Mini-Retreat at Tower Hill Camp.
Conference and Association Committee Meetings
Jan 29: Western Association Council. 3:00 p.m. via Zoom.
Feb 2: PA Committee on Ministry. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.
Feb 4: Personnel Committee. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.
Feb 8: Outdoor Ministry Committee. 9:30 a.m. via Zoom.
Feb 9: FVA Committee on Ministry. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.
Feb 9: CMA Church & Ministry. 12:00 p.m. via Zoom.
Feb 15: EA Committee on Ministry. 9:30 a.m. via Zoom.
Feb 18: General Synod Delegate Orientation. 10:00 a.m. via Zoom.
Feb 21: FAB Committee Meeting. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.
Feb 21: WA Committee on Ministry. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.
Feb 25: Conference Council. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.
Employment, Education, & Resources
Employment Opportunities
Ministerial opportunities within the United Church of Christ.

Recently Added Lay Employment Opportunities:

Chicago, Bryn Mawr Community Church seeks PT Administrative Assistant

Elmhurst, Bethel UCC seeks PT Dir. of Children/Youth Ministries

Grayslake, United Protestant Church seeks PT Music Director

For a list of current open positions with the National UCC click here.

For more lay employment opportunity postings, click here.

Please let us know if you have a job opening you would like to share,
and also update us once the position is filled. Contact Sarah Lohrbach.
New Resources!
OCWM & Stewardship
United Church of Christ

National has been working on updating resources for OCWM. These resources highlight work being done in the National Setting that is supported by Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support. A poster and four bulletin inserts help tell the story of how OCWM Basic Support strengthens local congregations. You can find these free resources here.

“Because of You, Our Church Changes Lives” is this year's UCC stewardship theme, making the connection between donor generosity and the ministry and mission of your congregation. Materials include extensive resources for worship, sermons, and faith formation for children, youth and adults. The materials also provide practical tools such as logos, commitment cards, bulletin inserts and letters. Guidance for every step of your campaign helps you make the best use of these robust materials. Various download options are available here. Print resources will ship in February.
Next Generation Leadership Initiative
UCC Pension Boards

The Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI) energizes and empowers younger UCC local church pastors to co-create vibrant congregations that change lives, engage their communities, and further God’s mission in the world. We are currently accepting applications for our 14th cohort. Notice of intent to apply deadline is February 1.

The ideal candidate is:
  • 35 years of age or under by June 1, 2023*
  • Served a total of five years or less as an authorized minister in a parish*
  • Authorized for ministry in and on behalf of the UCC by an Association/Conference
  • Hold a called position of 20 hours per week or more in a parish setting
  • Committed to long-term ministry in local churches of the United Church of Christ
(*note, if a candidate meets the last three criteria, they are allowed to be a bit over in one of the first two. We will consider people up to age 40 and/or people with up to 10 years of parish ministry experience. However, if someone is over the ideal range in both of these categories, they are not eligible to apply.)

Those selected to participate in NGLI receive:
  • Six years of advanced training, education, and field trips to hone pastoral leadership skills and gifts for service to the Church.
  • Cohort of colleagues that encourages, challenges, and reflects together on the life of a local church pastor in these rapidly changing times.
  • Financial incentive—a $6,000 seed contribution to the participant’s Annuity Plan account, which should have a value of approximately $45,000 at the end of a 35-year career. 

Nollau Leadership Institute
Council for Health & Human Service Ministries

The Nollau Leadership Institute is the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries' (CHHSM) signature program with more than 250 attendees in its 20+ years. Grounded in the health and human service organizations of the United Church of Christ, this program offers a unique space in which to experience leadership formation. Each year, Nollau brings together a community of leaders committed to creating a just, caring, and compassionate world. Such values deepen during the program, as participants grow in their leadership skills from a place of belonging. Cultivating this connection between others, the world, and within themselves is the heart of the Nollau experience.

Through in-person retreats, online interactions, and peer mentoring, Nollau provides leadership formation through a variety of learning modalities and within a community of practice. Small group work, journaling, art, embodiment, and spiritual practices are all part of the program alongside the interactive didactic sessions. The program culminates with a capstone project and consecration as a Diakonal Minister at the CHHSM Annual Gathering. Learn more and apply here.
Health & Human Service Sunday

The UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries recently released resources for Health and Human Service Sunday, which takes place Jan. 29, the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany. The resources provide a means for CHHSM members and friends to bring the message of serving leadership and support for essential workers to their local churches. Included in this year’s resources are liturgical elements and prayers, including a special “Meditation for Mental Health,” written by the Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development. In addition to the mental health meditation is a “Beatitudes for Essential Workers,” also created by Berry.

Advocate Health Care
Advocate Aurora Health Care

Safely Reopening Our Doors Toolkit

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Address for printed newsletters: Illinois Conference UCC, 1840 Westchester Blvd., Suite 200, Westchester, IL 60154. Electronic newsletters: Please add Sarah Lohrbach at SarahLohrbach@ilucc.org to your church’s mailing list.
THE ILLINOIS CONFERENCE UCC E-NEWSLETTER is published by the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ, 1840 Westchester Blvd., Suite 200, Westchester, IL 60154. The Rev. Molly Carlson, Conference Minister; Sarah Lohrbach, Editor. Copy may be sent to: SarahLohrbach@ilucc.org. 
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