Keeping you informed of happenings around the New York Conference, UCC.

Happenings Around Our Conference
My Thoughts

Rev. David Gaewski
My father was neither gregarious nor grumpy. He was neither mean nor loving. He was steadfast and a very hard worker. I think of him this time of year remembering him raking leaves and oh, that wonderful smell of burning leaves (which is NOT good for our environment, so compost, don't burn). We had a small hill in our backyard. He would rake the leaves (we had many trees) into a large pile at the bottom of the hill. My brother and I absolutely loved to run down the hill and jump into the pile of leaves. This was sheer joy-elated, uncontrolled, abandoned joy. Even writing these words I can smell and feel the leaves. My father never minded us doing this, although he told us we had to help re-rake them into a pile (which we were happy to do). Even though I don't remember my father to be one who smiled much, I do think he enjoyed watching his sons truly play. I can only imagine how I would have experienced by father jumping in the pile with us.
I am musing about play and wondering how we play when we are "grown up". Sometimes when I am flying one of my kites, I become self-conscious of taking the time that appears un-productive. But.... it gives me joy and in so doing feeds my soul. At the end of that string my spirit is soaring close to the face of God.
I am also wondering how the church plays. And a "fun" activity that is offered for the purpose of fund-raising is not play. When do we find ourselves elated with uncontrolled, abandoned joy as the children of God together? 
Prayer: Loving God, teach us to play. Amazing, divine Spirit, come frolic with us. Amen.


Rev. David R Gaewski, Conference Minister  Twitter: @davidgaewski1
Revised and Updated: Guide for Becoming Accessible to All

The UCC Disabilities Ministries Board of Directors announced the release of an updated publication "Any Body, Every Body, Christ's Body: A Guide for Congregations, Associations, and Conferences for Becoming Accessible to All." Becoming A2A is a response to the growing need for churches to become accessible for all aspects of church life including worship, fellowship, and leadership. The new publication provides information and resources that will guide congregations as they answer this call. Click here to view the new guide. Questions can be sent to or
Clergy Participation Invited: Discussing Pastors' Grief

Marie Tracy, a third-year Master of Divinity student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, is completing a project on the potential ability for pastors to grieve within a congregational setting. She is looking to interview United Church of Christ clergypersons who lost a loved one while working in a church, to hear your story, and to discuss your experience as a pastor facing grief. Potential participants do not need to still be serving within a congregational setting. Please contact Marie at (908) 358-5436 or by email at with any questions or if you are interested in participating. All identifying information will remain strictly confidential.
Clergy Communities of Practice are coming to NY Conference

Do you long for a group of colleagues with whom you can be open, honest, and vulnerable in sharing about the joys and challenges your face in ministry?   Does the idea of studying with other ministers about theological/biblical issues excite you? Or maybe  you would appreciate a regular group worship and prayer experience where you do not have to be the leader? If this is you, than a Community of Practice group is the place for you.
The New York Conference is excited about the launch of Communities of Practice peer support groups. With the help of trained facilitators, these groups offer pastors, new ministers, and those in specialized ministry settings an opportunity to find affirmation, support, and accountability within a peer-learning environment. Ministry becomes a shared endeavor and ministers are stronger because of their group experience.
Read what the UCC Massachusetts Conference says about their Communities of Practice program: 
"When we created our program we hoped that pastors would find the support and guidance they needed as well as a greater sense of ministry as a shared endeavor. That has indeed happened, but there have been other outcomes as well...friendship among pastoral colleagues, healing, laughter, helpful perspectives, and a renewed sense of calling...When we started six years ago, we spoke about it as an experimental effort. Now, however, we cannot imagine our life without it..."
Want to learn more?  Want to sign up to participate?  CLICK HERE  
CHHSM Survey

Council for Health and Human Service Ministries  has launched a broad denomination-wide survey to glean the United Church of Christ's collective understandings of, attitudes about, and involvement with health and human service ministries today. 
We want to invite and encourage you to complete the survey before October 31 and to share it widely among your networks (congregations, etc.) Respondents do not necessarily need any knowledge of CHHSM or its member ministries, or even the UCC, in order to provide the constructive feedback we are seeking.

The survey can be found here:

The results will help to inform/shape CHHSM's strategic planning process and impact future ministry initiatives.  
Save the date: State Youth Event

Youth ages 14-18 should save the dates -- March 3-5, 2017 -- for the 32nd Annual United Church of Christ New York Conference State Youth Event at Watson Homestead in Painted Post, NY. This year's theme will be "Realize, Relax, Reassure." For more information, contact Associate Conference Minister Rev. Ryan Henderson, or stay tuned to for more updates.

Click here to print a flyer advertising this event!
Sign your church up for Readiness 360

Are you ready?
  • To take a spiritual "snapshot" of your church?
  • To see how your church can be more vital in its ministry?
  • To evaluate your church's readiness for perhaps a new ministry?
Congregations meeting eligibility criteria can participate in Readiness 360, an online congregational assessment in areas of spiritual intensity, missional alignment, dynamic relationships, and cultural openness. This survey assists leaders in understanding and acting upon issues that drive vital, healthy congregations. Previously available to a limited number of congregations, the New York Conference is making this survey available to all of our churches at a nominal cost.You may find a document of "Frequently Asked Questions" by clicking here.
For questions or further information please contact Rev. Freeman Palmer at
Resources: Plan to join in "Vote Faithfully Sunday"

We invite you to join with our Ecumenical partners in observing the Sunday before Election Day as "Vote Faithfully Sunday." This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and uplift every voice in our community, reflect on our commitment to the common good and prepare to cast our ballots.

General Synod... Already??

Since General Synod will be held in the Mid-Atlantic Region (Baltimore) it is not too early for us in New York to begin our planning. The dates of General Synod are June 30 - July 4. 
General registration will open December 5. The full event visitor registration fee of $247.50 is discounted through the end of March. Full five-day visitor registrants pay only $225 if they register before January 5 and only $236.50 from January 6 through March 31. Information is now beginning to be posted at  
Free breakfast in Central Square

Central Square Community Church is hosting a Veterans Breakfast on Sunday, Nov. 6 from 8:00-9:30. The breakfast is free for everyone and includes scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, home fries, toast, and hot and cold beverages. Please call the church office (668-6278) before Nov. 4 to ensure there's enough food for everyone. A patriotic church service will follow at 10:00.
Click here to view an event flyer. 
Conference: Discovering God's Future for Your Church

Register now for this conference or live stream on Saturday, November 5 from 10:00a-1:00p. Learn a step-by-step process for discerning God's vision for your church. Participate in person in Washington, DC, or via live stream from your own computer or mobile device. Registration fee is $50 per person for conference registration or live stream registration; or pay $75 for live stream registration for groups.

Click here for an event flyer.
Click here for more information or to register. 
"Sisters 4 Sisters"  Online Cancer Survivor Support Gathering


If you are a cancer survivor (any type) or are currently in the fight, join your fellow sisters for a time of sharing and support.  During the month of October we will meet via the online Zoom platform for one hour to share our stories and encourage one another.  Remember,  "as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."  ( Proverbs 27:17) .  Join us.  The dates, times and Zoom link are below:

October 27  -   6:00 pm

If you have any questions please email or call 845-500-5082.

Rev. Marsha Williams
Special Collection of School Supplies for Nicaraguan Kids

In 2016 a delegation from New York Conference had the opportunity to visit the wonderful weekly educational program offered at various churches of the Iglesia Mision Cristiana. They serve children from neighborhoods in Managua who are the poorest of the poor.

At the First Church in Managua (one of the churches serving the children) more than 300 children from ages 3 years to 15 years old participate in an afternoon program that focuses on the areas of cognitive and social/emotional/spiritual development. They also receive a nutritional meal every day. They have an incredible group of teachers/directors and volunteers who serve the children with the love of God.

Our next group going in February 2017 (after consulting with the Iglesia Mision Cristiana's office) would like to bring with us supplies that would be of great help to them.

We would like to encourage churches to do a campaign to collect the following items:
Pencils, pens, markers, construction paper, arts and crafts items, glue sticks, small scissors, books for children in Spanish and cash (we can buy the items for you here in Syracuse).

Churches will be responsible for sending these items to the Conference office in Syracuse no later than February 5, 2017.
Fall Association Meetings

Black River-Saint Lawrence Association
Met earlier this fall (October 2, Richville)

Essex Association
(Spring Meeting Only)

Genesee Valley Association
Met earlier this fall (October 16, South Livonia)

Hudson-Mohawk Association
Date: October 29, 2016
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Place: North Congregational Church, Middletown
Address: 96 N Beacon St,  Middletown, NY 10940

Oneida Association
Met earlier this fall (September 18, Central Square)

Metro Association
Theme: The Church of the 21st Century -- Is Your Church Ready to Change? (A Panel Discussion to explore what was and what will be)
Date: November 19, 2016
Time: 9:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Place: Wantagh Memorial Congregational Church
Address: 1845 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, NY 11793.

Suffolk Association
Theme: History and Current Situation of Racism in Long Island - Presenter: Elaine Gross
Date: November 5, 2016
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Place: The Congregational Church of Huntington, UCC
Address: 30 Washington Drive,  Centerport, NY 11721

Susquehanna Association
Met earlier this fall (September 24, Preble)

Western Association
Theme: Bold Faith for Today: A Conversation with the New York Conference Ministry Team
(Covenant signing with the Berlin City Deanery)
Date: November 6, 2016
Time: 2:00pm
Place: Lockport UCC
Address: 98 East Ave.,  Lockport, NY 14094
Staff Preaching Schedule

Rev. Freeman Palmer
October 30 - St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran UCC, Bronx
November 13 - Church in the Gardens (Installation of Steven Moore as pastor), Queens
November 20 - Church of the Evangel, Brooklyn
December 11 - Ridgeview Congregational Church, White Plains

Rev. Dr. Marjorie Purnine
November 6 - Niagara Falls Congregational

Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams
November 13 - Lemuel Haynes
November 20 - Church of the Pelhams  
Opportunities for Education
Upcoming Webinars from Practical Resources for Churches 
Webinar: Alternative Sunday School Series: It Takes a Village
Thursday, October 20, 2016
7:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern
Leader: Katie Rode Carided
Webinar: Becoming a Barrier-Free Congregation
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
7:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern
Leader: Sharon McCart
Fall Learning Event on Leading Changing Churches

The New York School of Ministry Fall Learning Event, "Discerning the Body: What We Need to Know about our Churches to Lead Them Effectively through Change,"
will be held on November 18-19 (from Friday dinner through worship, mid-afternoon on Saturday) at Notre Dame Retreat House, 5151 Foster Road, in Canandaigua.
J. Mark Lawson will be our leader.
Eugene Peterson wrote, "Once you stop struggling, you're dead." A church congregation completely free of conflict has ceased to be a living body of Christ. Not all conflict is good or even necessary, and any conflict that is misunderstood or mismanaged can lead to long-term dysfunction. On the other hand, properly discerning the true source of conflict and negotiating it successfully leads to new life.  This event will familiarize participants with common and often misunderstood sources of church conflict and explore how honestly engaging these struggles can lead to new growth in size and spirit. Note: focus will be given to small and medium-size congregations of with average worship attendance of less than 120.This program fulfills 6 hours towards the continuing education requirement for authorized ministers.

Cost: Overnight: $105; Commuters: $50. 
To register, go to:
Boundary Awareness Refresher Training

Another Boundary Awareness Refresher training will also be offered on October 24 at Homer Congregational UCC, 28 S. Main Street, Homer, NY 13077. Cost is $75 (to register, contact Sue Frost at ). 
ONLINE:  UCC History, Theology and Polity Course,  Jan. 2017

UCC History, Theology and Polity Course that meets the requirements as set forth by the UCC Polity Teacher's Network will be offered online during January 2017. Classes will begin at 9:00am and end at 4:00pm on the following dates: January 7, 21 and 28 and February 4. The platform utilized will be Zoom Video Conferencing ( ) The tuition will be $465. For more information contact the instructor, Reverend David Gaewski, NY Conference Minister, at
This polity course is sponsored by the Oneida Association of the New York Conference. Payments should be sent no later than December 20 to Diana Pelletier, 114 Munro Dr., Camillus, NY 13031. Make checks payable to Oneida Association UCC.

A syllabus is available upon request.  Laity, Members in Discernment and Privilege of Call candidates are all invited! Class size is limited to the first twelve to register. The course will be cancelled if we do not obtain seven registered students. A student is considered registered when full payment has been received.  Students who cancel enrollment will receive reimbursements up until January 6.
Panel for Teen Threats, October 23

Garden City Community Church (245 Stewart Avenue, Garden City, NY) will host a panel titled "Dangerous Liaisons: The Truth About Campus Predators, Toxic Relationships, and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Teens."  The panel, from 1:00-3:30 on Sunday, October 23, will address warning signs of toxic personal relationships and potential recruitment into unhealthy commercial or spiritual organizations. For more information, click here to see a flyer on the event, or visit the church website for more information and to RSVP.
News from Our Committees
Global Ministries
The Rev. Judy Chan, Global Ministries missionary in Hong Kong, will be preaching and speaking in churches across the Conference. Everyone is welcome at any of her presentations. You may need to check with the church to find out the time of the event.

Sunday, Oct. 30, 9:15am and 11:00am:  Preaches at Ebenezer UCC, West Seneca  

Sunday, Oct. 30, 4:00pm:  Program at Riverside-Salem UCC, Grand Island

Tuesday, Nov. 1:  Evening program at Community Christian Church UCC/DoC, Rochester

Wednesday, Nov. 2: Evening program at Bayberry UCC, Liverpool

Thursday, Nov. 3 Evening program at Greene Congregational UCC, Greene NY

Sunday Nov. 6, 10:30am Preaches at Wantagh Memorial Congregational Church, Wantagh
Stewardship Committee
Using Technology in Your Stewardship Campaign

From United Methodist Communications
4 awesome ideas to boost stewardship campaigns
From the Ecumenical Stewardship Center
Short Stewardship themed videos to purchase

Support the New York Conference
Covenant Share

Covenant Share is the Special Offering approved by the New York Conference in 2013. This offering can be taken up any time during the year. Covenant Share is to be received in the manner as One Great Hour of Sharing and Neighbors in Need. The Covenant Share Offering makes possible ministries specific to the United Church of Christ in New York.

Click to Learn More and Support:
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What's Happening at Your Local Church?

Do you have an item of news that you would like to share throughout the New York Conference? Please email our Communications Coordinator at and send the details - preferably with links and pictures!
Please note that the New York Conference does not publish news related to fundraisers.
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