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

Happenings Around Our Conference
My Thoughts
Rev. David Gaewski
Preachers pick up the Scriptures every week and engage in "exegesis ", which is to take from the text, a spiritual truth to nurture and strengthen disciples of Jesus.  Now, to be honest, to be truthful, sometimes the temptation for "eisegesis" is overwhelming; this is the exercise of starting with a presumed truth and working to fit it into the scriptural text.  And this is not as clear-cut as it may appear.  Truth is also gleaned from human reason, from tradition, and from experience.  So "eisegesis" is not as bad as it may suggest, at least not when we confess to our listeners the process that has engaged us.  If we say we have done exegesis, when in fact our process as been eisegesis, we approach the line of lying.
I am struggling with juxtaposing this ecclesial reality with the legitimation of "alternative facts" and the acknowledgement of living into a "post truth era".  The explosion of responses to Conway's interview last week, may indeed, to use Conway's own words "been a little too dramatic."
Who is up in arms when we turn on a television station that reports to be "reality television"?  We know it is not, but we conspire with the illusionists to make it real for ourselves.  Who then, if anyone, is really lying? 
In his January 15th article in the New York Times, Adam Kirsch writes: "The problem is that, more and more, people seem to want to be lied to....That is why the lie is so seductive: It allows the liar and his audience to cooperate in changing the nature of reality itself, in a way that can appear almost magical...People who can turn a lie into a truth have the power to shape reality; they are poets of the real. And the audience that gives them its willing suspension of disbelief is a co-conspirator in this uncanny transformation, just as novel readers conspire in their enchantment." (
So, while I am deeply troubled with a normalizing of presenting "alternative facts", I am also conscious that this is not something new under the sun.  And while my knee jerks when this is highlighted in the political sphere, I also am cognizant that the temptation arises in the pulpit as well as the podium.  This is not to say "it's all good, don't worry."  Rather it is a confession of the daily need for every human being to look in the mirror and discern what is fact and what is a lie.

Rev. David R Gaewski
Conference Minister  Twitter: @davidgaewski1
New and Right Spirit:
Understanding race, racism, and white privilege

"The time is always right to do what is right." 
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now is the right time to expand our understanding of race, racism, and white privilege, and to act with a new and right Spirit in our heart. This is the goal of the "New and Right Spirit" one-day appeal to take place on Ash Wednesday (March 1 st ) 2017.  Donations will fund specialized training for persons who will be deployed around New York State to facilitate honest, safe, and, yes, unsettling conversations that acknowledge our struggles with race, racism, and white privilege.  These are conversations for communities: sometimes in a church, sometimes in a school, sometimes in a town hall.  Please give generously on Ash Wednesday and be part of the change we long for.
Additional information will be forthcoming.
Staff Transitions

With regret, Gloria Halko's letter of resignation as the Conference Clerk was accepted last week. Gloria ended her 15 years of service with the New York Conference on January 19th. We thank her for her dedication to our conference. In the interim, Sue Frost will step in as the contact person for the 2017 UCC Yearbook process. All yearbook questions can be directed to Sue at Non-yearbook data record questions, including transfers of standing and other updates, should be directed to Sueli Gaewsky at

We are pleased to welcome Rev. Leigh McCaffrey to our team as our new NYSOM Clerk. Leigh officially began in this position on January 21st. Leigh is also a part-time member of the Florida Conference staff, serving as their MESA Coordinator. Although she will be based in Florida she comes frequently to Plattsburgh, NY to visit her children.
Become a better Minister

Do you need:
Support and encouragement in your ministry
Nurture of your individual practices of spiritual discipline
Authentic relationships with other ministers
Engagement in ongoing theological reflection and study
A place to share your ministry concerns and life challenges?
Become part of a Community of Practice. In-person and online groups are forming now in the New York Conference. Visit the links below for more information.

Conference Minister Endorses Camp Fowler

Two years ago Camp Fowler (and several other summer camps) requested that I endorse and promote their summer youth programs. Having worked extensively with summer camps in both Maine and New Hampshire, I am aware that a camp accredited by the American Camping Association is of critical importance in order for a conference to stand behind their programs. ACA accreditation ensures the highest standard for program safety in the summer camp industry. For this reason I told every camp that requested my backing that as soon as they achieved the ACA standard, I would support them.
I am very pleased to communicate that Camp Fowler on the shores of Sacandaga Lake in the Adirondack Mountains responded to my challenge and has been granted ACA accreditation. Having gone through the accreditation process in Maine, I can attest that this is no small achievement. For this reason I will promote Camp Fowler (or any other ACA accredited facility) for New York youth to enjoy! Camp Fowler is associated with the Reformed Church in America (Albany Synod). Ryan Henderson and I have met with their Director several times and we are pleased to support their program.
Registration for summer camp is now open online at Check out their programs. Several members of the New York Conference have been very active in their programs throughout the years including Marian Shearer, Janelle Richardson, and Emily Otto. They will attest to the inclusive, spiritual, and safe attributes that make Camp Fowler a wonderful experience for youth. Visit their website. You can also call Camp Fowler at 518-631-6789.
David Gaewski
UCCNY churches at Women's Marches

25 members and friends of Broadway UCC in Manhattan traveled to Washington, DC for the Women's March last weekend. A handful of parishioners also participated in the New York City march.
If your church participated in the Women's March  in Washington DC on January 21, or any of the 600+ "sister marches" around the world, please send us pictures, information, and the number of participants your church sent to  no later than Monday, January 30.
Opportunities from Back Bay Mission

Mission Trip Calendar Open: You can reserve mission trip week for 2018 by emailing the volunteer coordinator at Click here for more information and the 2018 calendar.

Internship Applications : Applications are now being accepted fro the 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship, providing people ages 19-35 with a 10-week summer program tailored to their needs., nurturing participants' passion for social justice and develop their appreciation for the church's roll in seeking social justice. Click here for more information.
United Church of Christ releases new video

Trading Places
Trading Places

The United Church of Christ has released an important video titled "Trading Spaces." This video  shines a light on religious bigotry in a unique way-by depicting religious leaders of different faiths experiencing the power of walking in one another's shoes -and into one another's houses of worship.

This video is intended to tell the world who we are in the United Church of Christ and what we dream of.

If you care about interfaith understanding and building a world free of religious intolerance, you will share this message.

Visit for more information.
Clergy Well-Being Study to Begin Next Month

All UCC clergy and Members in Discernment are being invited to participate in the Flourishing in Ministry project, a national study on clergy well-being. This research is being done in partnership with the UCC national setting and all Conferences. Ministers and MIDs will be receiving an email on February 7, 2017 that will invite you to participate in this study, though you are not required to do so. Details can be found here:
Call your senator; support peace in Israel and Palestine

Contact your Senators and Representative and let them know you want them to support, not undermine, peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Let them know you oppose all efforts to criticize, condemn, or undermine USNC 2334, and urge them to halt all efforts to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem outside a comprehensive peace agreement.  
Read more about this call to action from the United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ Global Ministries here.
Saratoga Springs church seeks Sunday School Coordinator

The Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church, a progressive federated church of PCUSA and the United Church of Christ in Saratoga Springs, NY is seeking a Part Time Sunday School Coordinator to be a part of our leadership team. This person would be responsible for the overall children's ministry and spiritual formation of our congregation.

Prior experience with children and volunteer recruitment and coordination a plus. We are a growing church with many young children and lots of potential. If you are interested, please send a resume and cover letter to by February 15th.
Staff Preaching Schedule

Rev. Freeman L. Palmer
January 28 - Church of the Living Hope (ordination: Chris Lawrence)
March 5 - First Congregational Church of Corning
March 12 - United Church of Rockville Centre
March 19 - United Church of Spring Valley

Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams
February 5 - Stanfordville United Church of Christ
February 12 - First Congregational UCC, Norwich
February 26 - Corona Congregational Church UCC
News from Our Committees
NYC Justice Ministries Coordinator

Call-In Week to Governor Cuomo
January 23 - 27, 2017
The Pilgrim Pipelines would carry explosive fracked oil along the New York State Thruway and through six counties, from Albany to New Jersey, and return flammable refined products north.
If constructed, the two pipelines would threaten our drinking water, risk the safety of dozens of communities, and promote fracking and climate change chaos.
Fortunately, Governor Cuomo has the authority to stop this dangerous project by denying Pilgrim's Thruway Right-of-Way permit.
The Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines - NY is seeking nonprofit organizations, community groups, houses of worship, businesses, political clubs, unions, and other institutions to help make this call-in week to Governor Cuomo as successful as possible!
Fill out this organization sign-up form, and we'll follow up to make sure you have the information and materials you need, like fliers and sample email alerts.
Click here to download a flyer or bulletin insert to share information about the Pilgrim Pipelines.
Opportunities for Education
January Free Webinars from Practical Resources for Churches

For more information about the webinars, the leaders, and to register, click on the title of the webinar.

Tuesday, January 31; 7:00-8:00p
Boundary Awareness Trainings offered in Metro

The Metropolitan association is hosting a Boundary Awareness Training on Monday, March 27 at the Garden City Community Church. Regular BAT is being offered as well as the Clergy BAT Renewal. Cost for the entire training (9:00a-4:00p) is $80 if paid before March 13, or $100 at the door. Cost for the renewal training is $60 paid before March 13 or $80 at the door.  Click here  for a registration form, registration information, and directions for the training.
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!
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