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

Happenings Around Our Conference
My Thoughts
Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams
I am a bowler. Bowling is my game and until recently, I was pretty good at it. My late father, who bowled semi-pro for many years, taught me everything I know about the game. I learned the angles and positioning, I learned about oil patterns on the lanes and the importance of having a properly fitted ball. (At one point I actually had six properly fitted balls!) I've competed in state and national tournaments and I've even won a few. Yes, bowling is my game and until recently, I was pretty good at it.
This past year however, I developed lymphedema, which produces chronic and permanent swelling in my right arm. My bowling arm.  After months of physical therapy, the doctor advised that the only way I could resume bowling was to switch to a lighter bowling ball and reduce the pressure on my hand by changing the way that I gripped my ball. I wasn't thrilled with the idea, but I was anxious to get back on the lanes. So, I purchased new lighter equipment and had these balls fitted to this new gripping style. 
Did I mention I used to be good at this game? Currently, I have no idea what I'm doing. With all of this new stuff, my balance is off, my aim is off, and my swing is off. Everything is off, and I feel like I'm learning the game from scratch. Ugh!!
Isn't it frustrating in ministry, when the stuff you know how to do just doesn't work anymore? We thought we knew how to "do" church, but now we're dealing with swelling budgets and lighter memberships and these rapid changes are throwing us completely off balance. It may even feel like we are starting ministry from scratch. Ugh! But I am learning that there are different ways to do what you thought you know how to do. Just be willing to try. Try a different sermon style, a new hymnal, or a different governance model. Heck, try sitting on a different pew. There's a whole new ministry out there waiting to be discovered and experienced. What have you got to lose? Sure it may look and even feel awkward at first, but with a little practice...  
My dad taught me that regardless of my balance or the weight of my bowling ball, those pins are still 60 feet from the foul line, exactly where they have always been. And one thing is for sure, just as those bowling pins haven't moved, neither has God. The rest is up to you.
See you on the lanes,

Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams
Associate Conference Minister for Clergy and Authorized Ministry Concerns
Add Your Name: Faith Leaders for the New York Health Act

Even after full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a million New Yorkers lack insurance. Others continue to find their healthcare unaffordable and go without care they need. As faith leaders, we believe every New Yorker - rich or poor, urban or rural, U.S. citizen or undocumented, upstate or downstate - deserves access to quality, affordable health care. The New York Health Act would bring single-payer universal health care to everyone in our state. If you're a clergy person or faith leader, please add your name and share with your colleagues!
Annual Meeting Business Items

You can now find the following three business items on the New York Conference website. They are:
1.  Proposed By-Law Revisions
2.  2018 Conference Budget
3.  Proposal to create a Conference Per Capita to replace Covenant Share.
A letter explaining these three business items will be sent via US Postal to all the NY Conference churches. The letter will contain the link to the business items on the website rather than hard copies..
Registration open for Annual Meeting

Registration is now open for the Annual Meeting and pre-meeting Authorized Ministers Retreat. Annual Meeting will begin at 2:00 on Thursday, May 25 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown. For more information, visit the conference website:
To register, use these links:
Hotel Reservations - click here to book your group rate for New York Conference of the United Church of Christ, Inc.
Annual Meeting - click here to register for the meeting and meals
Retreat - register for the Pre-Annual Meeting Authorized Ministers' Retreat by clicking here
Sing in the Annual Meeting Choir

If you're interested in singing in the choir at Annual Meeting, please take a moment to fill out this form.
Register now for New York Women's Annual Conference

Join the New York Women of the United Church of Christ for their annual conference on May 4-6 at Watson Homestead. This year's theme is God Brings New Beginning
. The conference features: workshops, Biblical drama, worship services, mission projects, card making, crafts, fellowship and activities, meditation room, book exchange, and Pennies for People.

For more information and pictures from last year's retreat, click here.
For a printable flyer to share or hang in your church, click here.
For a registration form, click here.
From Global Ministries:
Loren McGrail itinerating in New York Conference

Loren McGrail, a missionary appointed jointly by the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ will be itinerating in the New York Conference from April 29-May 15.  Loren, one of our New York Conference missionary partners, has been serving a four-year term in Bethlehem with the YWCA of Palestine and in Jerusalem with St. Andrews Scottish Church, assisting with worship and other pastoral duties. 

She will be preach at Greenpoint Reformed UCC in Brooklyn on April 30, and be the keynote speaker and preacher at the NY Conference Women's event at Watson Homestead May 4-6. She will preach at Corning UCC on May 7 and at Journey UCC, Slingerlands, on May 14.  She will present a program at First Congregational UCC, Gloversville on  May 10, following a soup supper and participate in the Hudson-Mohawk Association Meeting on May 13.  All are welcome to attend any of these worship services or programs.
From Global Ministries:
The Westras, Global Missionaries to Honduras, to visit UCCNY

Don and Maryjane Westra will be itinerating in the New York Conference in June. They have served the last 4 years with  CEVER (Center for Vocational Education and Evangelical Reformed) in Yoro, Honduras.  Sponsored by the Evangelical and  Reformed Church of Honduras, CEVER's mission is to provide vocational education, such as welding, automotive repair and  culinary arts to young people ages 14-30 with an emphasis on spiritual and moral development,  Maryjane, a medical social  worker has also been working with the church to reopen a rural health clinic whose mission is to provide basic health care  and nutrition support to an indigenous community in Yoro.
The Westras will be preaching in Honeoye UCC on June 4, Arcade UCC on June 11 and Henrietta (Rochester) UCC on June 18. They will also present a program at Webster UCC in Rochester on June 7 following a potluck supper.  They  will be available June 5-10 and June 12-17 to present programs in the western and central regions. Please consider organizing a daytime or evening program where they can talk about their work. Also, you can invite them to meet with a women's, men's, youth or retirees group, or participate in a Bible study. They would also enjoy hanging out with  a small group of interested people. If you would like to invite the Westras to  your church or if you have questions,  contact Kay Woike:; (716)834-9781.
Orient Church searching for relatives of former ministers

The Orient Congregational Church, UCC, is looking for former ministers, as well as children, grandchildren, etc. of ministers who have served the church in the past.
The church, located on the eastern end of Long Island (Suffolk Association) is celebrating its 300th Anniversary, and would like to invite these people to a celebration weekend, Friday, August 11 through Sunday, August 13. 

Please e-mail Rev. Dr. Ann Van Cleef, at .
Upcoming Boundary Training Opportunities:

REGISTRATION OPEN: ½ Basic offered online April 24 and May 1
Mondays, April 24 and May 1, from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
In the UCC, authorized ministers need to take Boundary Awareness Training. After the basic unit is completed, a "refresher" course is taken every few years. Associations offer refresher courses, since that is what most folks need. However, some still need the basic unit. With NYSOM's technological support, Penny Cannon will be offering the first half of a basic unit of BAT training via web conferencing, on Mondays, April 24 and May 1, from 7-9 pm.

If you have ever taken a Boundary Awareness Training, this IS NOT for you. And these two sessions are not a complete unit: they need to be combined with a face-to-face refresher  to constitute a basic unit of Boundary Awareness Training. The cost is $50 for the two web-conferenced sessions. Participants will read Cloud & Townsend's, 
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, in preparation for the sessions. Click here to register now. The registration deadline is April 11 (so that participants will have time to order and read the assigned book). If you have questions, contact Leigh McCaffrey at .

Renewal Class offered at Conference Office, May 20
The Oneida Association will be providing a one day refresher Boundary Awareness Training on Saturday, May 20, from 9am to 3pm, at the Conference Office in Dewitt. Cost is $75 and will be collected the day of the event. Registration can be made through Diana Pelletier, Oneida Registrar, at . A maximum of 20 individuals can attend. Registration deadline is May 10th. Please bring your lunch.

Renewal Class offered in Hudson-Mohawk, May 20
The Hudson-Mohawk Association will be providing a one day refresher Boundary Awareness Training on Saturday, May 20, from 9:00a to 1:00p, at the Interfaith Center at the University of Albany. Cost is $50; please bring your own lunch. This training will help increase awareness of the need for healthy and appropriate boundaries in the clergy/congregant relationship. Promote effective ministry by illustrating the impact of appropriate vs. inappropriate boundaries. Provide guidelines and suggestions for developing appropriate boundaries and necessary self-care strategies for ordained and non-ordained leaders. Help create healthy and safe churches . Register before May 13 with Sandy Damhof, or 518-495-0029.

Renewal Class offered in Western, May 23
The Western association is hosting a one day renewal Boundary Awareness Training on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at Ebenezer UCC,630 Main Street, West Seneca, NY 14224. This is the only scheduled BAT for 2017, so if you are due this year, this is the training for you. Cost for the training (9:00a-4:00p) is $75 if paid before May 10, or $100 at the door. For "no-shows" at the training event, a $25 fee will be retained from your refund. To register and for further information, please contact Rev. Robert C. Dievendorf at  or 585-492-4530.
Join the Climate March in Washington, DC on April 29

A climate march in Washington, DC on April 29th is being organized by the same broad coalition of groups that brought together more than 400,000 people for the 2014 climate march in New York City. The UCC Council for Climate Justice along with the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries are official co-sponsors for the upcoming march. We want to have a strong UCC presence at this march. RSVP to join the UCC contingent and receive updates from the Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC Minister for Environmental Justice. One can also look online for the nearest sister march .

Sister March Webpage:
Free accommodations for DC marches

Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ is offering free sleeping space and basic accommodations for any UCC groups coming to Washington DC for the following events
  • March for Science, Saturday, April 22
  • People's Climate March, Saturday, April 29
  • Immigrants March, Saturday, May 6
  • Equality March for Unity and Pride, Sunday, June 11 
Westmoreland UCC is located at 1 Westmoreland Circle in Bethesda, MD -- immediately across the street from DC at the intersection of Massachusetts and Western Avenues. From senior minister Rev. Tim Tutt: "The accommodations we can offer are not luxurious -- basically floor space for sleeping bags and pillows. But the cost may be right -- free."

Interested people can contact the church at 301-229-7766.
ONLINE: UCC History, Theology and Polity Course, June 2017

A 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 June 2017. Classes will begin at 9:30am and end at 4:00pm on the following dates: June 3, 10 (we will start at 9am on this date), 17, 24. The platform utilized will be Zoom Video Conferencing ( ) The tuition will be $475. 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 May 20th 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 fifteen 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 June 1st. Please note the last online class reached maximum capacity.
2017 UCC Musicians Association National Conference

Click here for the website dedicated to this national conference.
To download a brochure for the conference, click here.
Choirs invited to free workshops, festival

The Festival of Choirs USA® is a free church choir event, open to the public and scheduled for Saturday, May 13 at Sawyer Evangelical Church, 777 South Kendall Ave., Bradford, PA from 10:00a-6:00p.
The Festival is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for: Promoting public awareness of the need to reestablish and reinvigorate the choirs that were once in small town churches and communities.
Come for the day and enjoy great fellowship, music, workshops, and food or just come to hear the choirs perform in the afternoon. For more information or to register, click here. If you would like more information please contact:
Arcade UCC Choir:  Dona Roll- 716-676-2573
Festival Founder:  Jerry Goochee- 757-630-1490. 
Click here for a schedule of events.
National gathering, advocacy training set in Washington 

Join Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington for " Confronting Chaos, Forging Community"  from April 21-24, 2017 to grapple with the intersectionality of racism, materialism, and militarism , and learn more about the impact they have around the world, in our communities, and in our own lives. Through prayer, worship, advocacy training, and networking with other Christians, we will face the current manifestations of these 'triplets' and together advocate for change in public policy that better reflects the Beloved Community about which Dr. King spoke. After a weekend filled with education and training, Ecumenical Advocacy Days will culminate with a Lobby Day on Monday, April 24, 2017, where participants will converge on Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress. We seek to renew this revolutionary spirit as we affirm the vision of a day when 'Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.'" (Isa: 40:3)

Click here for more information.
Free hymnals in Ithaca

First Congregational Church of Ithaca has a large stock of Pilgrim and New Century hymnals that need new homes. We would love to give away our Pilgrim hymnals, and possibly sell our New Century hymnals ($5/hymnal). Is your church looking for new hymnals? Contact our church office (607-257-6033; for more information.
Free meals at Central Square 

Free! Lenten Souper, tomorrow:  Maundy Thursday, April 13.

Meals are from 6:00-7:00 pm at Central Square Community Church, 833 US Rte. 11 Call 315-668-6278  to make a reservation.

Register: United Church of Canada's Women's Conference

Women in the United Church of Christ are invited to the "55th Anniversary National United Church Women 'Celebrating Women'" conference. Please find below an electronic copy of the Conference Brochure as well as the Registration Form for the upcoming United Church Women (UCW), the women's conference of the United Church of Canada. The gathering is in Vancouver July 10-14, 2017 at the University of British Columbia.
Click here for a brochure.
Click here for the registration form.
Click here for the event website.
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
Association Spring Meeting schedule

April 29
Susquehanna Association, McLean -- All Ministry Team members present
Metropolitan, St. Albans
Genesee Valley, Community Christian
Suffolk, Middle Island

April 30
Oneida, Pulaski -- Marjorie Purnine

May 7
Black River/Saint Lawrence, Hopkington -- Marjorie Purnine
Western, TBA -- Ryan Henderson
Essex, Lewis -- David Gaewski

May 13
Hudson Mohawk -- Marsha Williams  
Staff Preaching Schedule

Rev. David R Gaewski
April 30 - First Congregational Church, Ithaca
May 14 - Henrietta United Church of Christ

Rev. Ryan W. Henderson
May 7 - St. Peter's UCC, West Seneca
May 14 - Kenilworth UCC, Buffalo

Rev. Freeman L. Palmer
April 16 - Nazarene Congregational Church, Brooklyn
April 30 - Christ Community Church, Cortland

Rev. Dr. Marjorie Purnine
April 30 - Groton Community Church

Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams
April 30 - Greene UCC
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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.

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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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