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

Happenings Around Our Conference
My Thoughts

Rev. David Gaewski

I have never met anyone, anyone in my life who is more giving of herself than my mother-in-law. The stories of her sacrifices for others, how she would go way out of her way to help others, are legendary. She is loved far and wide. In many ways my wife and I have said, she's in better health than we are.
But last Friday she fell, cut her hand and broke her wrist. This is very hard for any 87 year old. But we know the many inadequacies of the Brazilian medical system. And when it was quickly determined she would need surgery on Saturday morning, I took to the prayer-waves. I don't understand prayer, but I believe in it. Maybe that is it's own definition of faith.
When I posted on Facebook my request for prayers, I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of responses. Thank you. One person responded "May she be attended to by angels."
I need to emphasize that so much in the Brazilian medical system is less than ideal. I've known more than a few who have left the hospital sicker than when they entered it. But on Saturday evening my sister-in-law called my wife saying: "The surgery went perfectly. But what was most amazing was the care given by the doctors and the nurses. They were like angels!" They were like angels. That is not something you commonly hear about care received in Brazil. They were like angels.
I don't understand prayer. But sweet Jesus, I believe.
Rev. David R Gaewski, Conference Minister Twitter : @davidgaewski1
In the Footsteps of Jesus
Alternative Tour to Palestine & Israel
February 10-21, 2017      
A Global Ministries People-to-People Experience   
Alternative (responsible) travel seeks to transform curious tourists into informed pilgrims by engaging the people who live in the land - and the history, culture, and social realities that shape their lives.   
As the tour title suggests, many of the first-century conditions that shaped Jesus' life and ministry continue to shape the lives of Palestinians and Israelis today.   In addition to exploring the holy stones - the historic places and sites that have defined the three monotheistic faiths - participants will engage the Living Stones: Jews, Muslims and Christians who live in the land.
Experienced tour leaders Jeff & Janet Wright have served as short-term missionaries to Israel/Palestine through the Disciples of Christ/UCC Global Ministries.  Janet is a licensed clinical social worker.  Working near Bethlehem, she and colleagues created an all-Arab training team in EMDR.  Jeff is recently retired as lead pastor of Heart of the Rockies Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Fort Collins, Colorado.  The tour will be accompanied by a professional, local guide. 
To facilitate conversation, take advantage of unplanned opportunities and provide a more enriching experience, tour size is limited to around two dozen persons.  Participants will: explore the holy sites of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and  Nazareth; visit the Abrahamic mosque and divided city of Hebron; tour Jericho, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and more; learn from Global Ministries mission partners ( ); meet and discuss differing perspectives on the current political situation with Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders.  Some meetings on the itinerary are subject to change due to speakers' availability and other conditions; substitutions of similar interest and quality are made.
Travel arrangements have been made through the award-winning Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies ( ). 
Overnight accommodations are clean, comfortable and modest, booked to maximize our contact with the Living Stones and make the tour more affordable.  Past tour participants have rated the tour experience very highly.  Cost of the February 2017 tour (based on twenty participants and excluding airfare) is $2040.   For more information, contact the Wrights ( ) or check out their website, .

Welcome Back Brea!

We welcome back our former staff member Brea Rarick as our new Communications Coordinator. It is good to have her back in this similar but slightly different role. Her start date is September 12.  Please join us in welcoming her back. Her email will be:
Open and Affirming Workshop

We will be holding an Open and Affirming Workshop
at Journey UCC, Glenmont, NY
on October 22 from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM.

Details and registration to follow soon.
Churches connecting with schools
In most parts of the country, September is back to school time. Churches may have their children in worship, Sunday school, and other programs for a few hours a week, but the majority of their time is spent in school. It makes sense that churches should support the local schools in their area. Many churches are already doing this by collecting school supplies for children from low-income families or offering after school homework help. If your church is looking for ways to connect with schools, the Lewis Center offers an article entitled 50 Ways to Engage Local Schools. The article not only lists specific ways churches can help schools but also offers tips for determining the needs of local schools.
Many churches use the first Sunday of the programming year to bless the children's backpacks. If you haven't done this yet, check out the Building Faith website which has several articles about the practice, along with prayers and links to more information.
Christine Voreis Hides in her Bless Each One blog offers a free set of printable "question cards" to encourage meaningful conversation between parents and children related to what happened in school that day. These can be placed in a ruler bag and given out to families. You might also want to make the question cards the focus of the children's message on the day they are distributed.

Thursday, September 8, 2016
7:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern
Leader: Debbie Kolacki
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
7:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern
Leader: Ivy Beckwith 
Debbie Kolacki, senior consultant at PRC - Practical Resources for Churches

Join Moral Revival National Day of Action in Albany
September 12
On September 12, people of faith and moral courage will gather at state capitols in 25 states to deliver the "Higher Ground Moral Declaration." Spearheaded by Rev. William Barber of North Carolina's Forward Together movement, it calls on elected leaders and candidates to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and toward policies and laws that are just, fair, and serve the common good. 

Faith for a Fair NY 2016 Conference
September 25-27, Syracuse

New Yorkers of all faiths are compelled by our traditions to seek justice. How do we do so faithfully and effectively in a time of increasing inequality, poverty and ideological division?
Over three days of presentations, workshops, and small group reflection, we will:
  • Build connections with other justice-seeking New Yorkers from different regions and faiths
  • Build knowledge of issues and movements through a moral/faith-rooted lens
  • Build the capacity to do justice work through skills training and strategic reflection
  • Be energized and inspired to continue working for justice - or to get involved for the first time
Sacred Conversations on Race: Next Steps

Justice and Witness Ministries Coordinator Rev. Emily McNeill is looking to coordinate reading/discussion groups in each association to further the conference's engagement on issues of racism and white privilege. Are you interested in learning more or getting involved? Contact Emily at .

Staff Preaching Schedule

Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams
September 11 - First Congregational, Phoenix

Rev. David R Gaewski
September 11 - Austinburg, Ohio
September 18 - Epiphany UCC, Clarence Center
September 25 - Park Avenue Christian, Manhattan
Rev. Dr. Marjorie Purnine
September 18:  Homer Congregational Church, UCC
Opportunities for Education

Bowen Training 3 - Applications of a Differentiation Based Model with Couples
Wednesday September 21, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM EDT

First Reformed Church of Scotia
224 North Ballston Ave
Scotia, NY 12302

Driving Directions

$50 - 4 CEU's

September 21, 2016
9AM - 1PM

Registration begins at 8:30

Presented By:
David Olsen, PhD, LCSW, LMFT
Executive Director

Erin Belanger, LMHC
Director of Training and Development

Part III will explore how to use Bowen's notion of differentiation as a key concept in working with couples. Borrowing from Murray Bowen, Peter Titelman, and David Schnarch, the workshop will explore practical applications of Bowen theory to working with Couples.

Due to scheduling difficulties, Dr Steven Sandage will be with us in the spring.

Get more information
Register Now!


Registration is now open for the:
Authorized Minister's Fall Retreat
on October 3-5, 2016

at Stony Point Retreat Center,
Stony Point, NY
The theme of the event is: 
"Authenticity & Vulnerability in Ministry"
Presenters are:
Rev. Holly Miller-Shank and Rev. Dani Loving Cartwright.
For more information and to register please click here.

Global Missionary Available to Speak

The Rev. Judy Chan, who has served with Global Ministries for 22 years will be available to speak to congregations and groups around the New York Conference from Saturday, Oct. 22-Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Western/Central Region: Oct. 22 - Nov. 1
Metro Area: Nov. 2-9 

Judy serves with the Hong Kong Christian Council, as a communications Specialist in charge of Ecumenical Broadcasting Ministry and Editor of English publications and speaks fluent Cantonese.  She has a powerpoint with pictures of her work and enjoys meeting with small groups.    

If you would like to schedule Judy or have questions, contact Kay Woike at:; 716-834-9781

News from Our Committees
Stewardship Committee

I frequently get asked a question about churches and cell towers.  In the brochure from the Insurance Board they had an article, Cell Towers: To lease of Not?  They suggested that people with questions read the article on their website Cell Tower Leases - Do's and Don'ts for Churches from 2010.

  This fall's stewardship webinars:
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
7:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern
Leader: Grace Duddy Pomroy

You can always call me or email me with Stewardship questions

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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