November 2023 E-Newsletter

Annual Celebration -

Reports and Information

The 2023 Illinois Conference Annual Celebration is only a week away! We have 169 people registered to attend, and we can't wait to see you, whether in person in Yorkville or on Zoom! An email will be going out to everyone registered through Realm early next week that will have specifics regarding the Friday evening banquet, how to attend online, and more. Watch your emails so you don't miss it!

Whether you are attending the event or not, you can access all of the reports that have been submitted by Conference and Association staff, leadership, committees and task forces. This includes the budget presentation, a report from the Governance Team, and other items of business. Click here or on the button below to access the reports. You will need to enter the password: 2023CAC

We look forward to seeing you next week!

Access the Reports Here

'A new thing': Thompson's historic installation surrounded by multiple traditions, interfaith partners and joyful noise - United Church of Christ

"God is doing a new thing. God is making all things new." If anyone doubted that this was a historic occasion, the Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley made sure

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Nollau Institute Applications Open!
UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries
The UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries has opened applications for enrollment for the 2024-2025 class of its Nollau Leadership Institute.

The Nollau Leadership Institute is designed to cultivate today’s leaders who are committed to creating a just, caring, and compassionate world. It is a program that acknowledges the many ways this hoped-for world is alive in each one of us, and how it comes into fuller expression when we journey together - as illustrated by the root word for leadership, loedan, which means ‘to travel.’

Space is limited, and fills up quickly, so early applications are strongly encouraged. The application is available online. A limited number of tuition scholarships are available to help offset the costs of the program. See the application for more information.
Learn More/Apply Here

Ministers' Financial Vitality Initiative

UCC Pension Boards


Applications are Open for the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI)! If you are an active UCC authorized minister interested in joining the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative program for the 2024 cohort beginning January 2024, please follow this link to apply. The application deadline is Dec. 31. The application period closes at midnight on that day. No extensions will be granted. We encourage you to act promptly as spaces are limited and requests will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis until all spaces are filled.

MFVI is a three-year Faith and Finance program of the Pension Boards made possible by funds awarded to PBUCC by the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, which seeks to empower UCC ministers with financial tools and strategies to better manage their personal finances so they can serve their ministries more effectively. To learn more about the MFVI program, please read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Call for an End to the Violence in Israel and Gaza

As we mourn, and pray for those who have lost loved ones, particularly those still seeking information on the well-being of friends and family, we must call on policymakers to support a Just Peace in Gaza and Israel.

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Protect and Expand Voting Rights

Urge your legislators to fulfill their obligations to protect the sacred right to vote by passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

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Advocate for the Transgender Bill of Rights

Scripture reminds us that all of God's people are members of the Body of Christ. Right now, transgender siblings need our help. Urge your constituents to pass the Transgender Bill of Rights!

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Active Appeals from Wider Church Ministries

Middle East Appeal - URGENT

Hawaii Wildfires Appeal

Ukraine Appeal

Syria/Turkey Earthquake Appeal

Fall/Winter Retreat Specials

Tower Hill Camp

The fall-winter season is here and Tower Hill has a deal for you! Super special reduced rates for all to enjoy the Harbor Country area here in Sawyer, Michigan. The coming season is so pretty and relaxed. There is plenty to do, great restaurants and nature to enjoy. What's the deal? For the coming months of November and December: 

Relax for a stay in one of our great cottages for just $100 a night. In addition, our retreat centers are offered at 20% off - so gather your extended family, a group, or create your own fun retreat! The discounted rates are:

  • St. Philippus - only $480 per night. Sleeps up to 12 guests. 
  • The Lodge - only $800 per night. Sleeps up to 20 guests. 
  • Schrag - only $960 per night. Sleeps up to 32 guests and has a great room. 

Call Tower Hill (269-426-3881) to book your retreat today!

Crafters/Quilters Retreat

December 7 - 10 | Pilgrim Park Camp

$375 single room, $275 double/triple


What a wonderful time to be able to complete your Christmas projects, all while enjoying the peaceful scenery of Pilgrim Park. Come join us for fun, great food and fellowship! We will provide sewing and cutting tables and irons and ironing boards. You will need to bring your own supplies, projects, materials, extension cord, machines and whatever else you need to have a successful and productive time. You may also want to bring some snacks and beverages. (There are no vending machines onsite.) Included: 3 nights lodging, bedding and towels, 8 meals and lots of time to quilt...quilt…and quilt! Plan to arrive between 3 and 5 p.m. Thursday, December 7 and heading for home by 11 a.m. Sunday, December 10. Sleeping rooms consist of 6 rooms with private bathrooms (tub/shower combo) each room having 3 double beds; 2 rooms with private bathrooms (tub/shower combo) each having 2 double beds and 1 twin bed; and 2 handicap accessible rooms with private bathrooms (shower) each having 1 double bed and 1 twin bed. Please note if you require a handicap accessible room. Registration deadline is November 25th.

Call Pilgrim Park (815-447-2390) if you have questions, or to book a retreat of your own!

Register Online
Donate Online
Upcoming Events

A Just Harvest 40th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, November 5 @ 3:30 PM

A Just Harvest

We are thrilled to invite you to a momentous occasion, a celebration of 40 years of unwavering commitment to feeding and uplifting our beloved community. This milestone is a testament to the power of love, compassion, and collective effort. For four decades, we have come together to provide nourishment for both body and soul. We've shared countless meals, laughter, tears, and triumphs. Together, we have built a stronger, more vibrant community in Rogers Park. Please join us for a concert and celebration Sunday Nov 5th at First Congregational Church of Evanston (1445 Hinman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201) for live music & visual performances, food & beverage, family, friends, community & a little prayer. This is a FREE event. Learn more and RSVP here.

Sowing Justice Webinar Series

November 7, 14, 28 at 6:00 PM CST

United Church of Christ

Join us for a three-part webinar series in collaboration with Franklinton Center on UCC advocacy priorities in the next Farm Bill. Farmers, policy experts, and impacted community leaders will highlight the need to advocate for economic, racial, and environmental justice for small farmers, the food insecure, and the earth. Tuesdays, November 7, 14, and 28 at 7 p.m. CST. Register online here.

From Greenwashing to Environmental Justice

Wednesday, November 8 @ 12 PM CST

UCC Webinar

The President of the upcoming UN Climate Conference is the CEO of the one of the world's largest oil producers and is currently working to aggressively expand his company’s production. In this webinar, panelists will not only provide a critical assessment of the greenwashing and corporate capture of this conference, but they will also cast an alternative vision and pathway forward. The world deserves and desperately needs a UN process dedicated to the advancement of all peoples, a core principle of the UN Charter. Even if you cannot make the webinar at its scheduled time on November 8th at 12:00 p.m. CST, still sign-up, and we will send you a link to a recording of it. Register now!

Building a Culture of Protection

Wednesday, November 8 @ 1:00 PM CST

UCC Insurance Board

Ministries continue to face challenges and resistance implementing abuse prevention best practices in their congregations. Join us on November 8th at 1:00 p.m. CST to learn how to strengthen your abuse prevention policies and implement best practices for responding to allegations of abuse. Insurance Board's guest speaker, Beth Boyer Kollas, is an ordained UCC minister from Praesidium, who holds her MDiv (Counseling), and dual PhDs in HIV/ AIDS and Psychology/ Counseling. Beth is certified in many areas and has extensive experience and knowledge in the healthcare and social services arenas. Learn more/register here.

Digital Ministry Summit

November 13-16, 2023


Four days of conversations with the Convergence Digital Ministry Senior Fellows and leaders from across the country about the current state and future of digital ministry in the church. Videos will drop daily throughout the week and you can watch them anytime in the day. New voices will be available the following day. The Digital Ministry Summit is free during the four days of the summit. It will equip and inspire faith leaders in varying contexts with different technological abilities to take their necessary next step in digital ministry. Digital ministry was not just a band-aid we put on our churches for the past few years but a new muscle that we must continue to stretch and strengthen. Our world is forever changed and the church’s only hope is to let go of the “glory days” of our past and take an honest look at where we are and where we might be going.

Join us on November 13-16 and learn from the Convergence Digital Ministry Senior Fellows and other digital ministry leaders so that we can all take our next steps in this essential and very much legitimate ministry.

Learn More and Register Here
Calendar at a Glance
Ordinations, Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils

Oct 15: Service of Installation for Rev. Greg Sabetta. 10:00 a.m. at Faith Community UCC in Bensenville. Fox Valley Association.

Oct 28: Service of Ordination for Duane Lahti. 4:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake. Fox Valley Association.

Oct 29: Service of Installation for Rev. Duane Lahti. 4:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church in Moline. Western Association.

Oct 29: Service of Installation for Rev. Kyle Roggenbuck. 3:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn. Fox Valley Association.

Events in the Illinois Conference & Beyond

Nov 3-4: Annual Celebration. At Yorkville Congregational Church.

Nov 5: A Just Harvest 40th Anniversary Celebration. 3:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Evanston.

Nov 7: Sowing Justice Webinar Series - Part 1. 6:00 p.m. via Zoom.

Nov 8: Environmental Justice Webinar. 12:00 p.m. via Zoom.

Nov 8: Building a Culture of Protection Webinar. 1:00 p.m. via Zoom.

Nov 13-16: Digital Ministry Summit. Online event through Convergence.

Nov 14: Sowing Justice Webinar Series - Part 2. 6:00 p.m. via Zoom.

Nov 23-24: Conference Office Closed for Thanksgiving.

Nov 28: Sowing Justice Webinar Series - Part 3. 6:00 p.m. via Zoom.

Conference and Association Committee Meetings

Nov 2: PA Committee on Ministry. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.

Nov 8: Outdoor Ministry Committee Meeting. 9:30 a.m. via Zoom.

Nov 9: FVA Committee on Ministry. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.

Nov 9: CMA Committee on Ministry. 12:00 p.m. via Zoom.

Nov 15: EA Committee on Ministry. 9:30 a.m. via Zoom.

Nov 19: WA Council Meeting 3:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Nov 20: CMA Council Meeting. 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Nov 21: FAB Committee Meeting. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.

Nov 21: WA Committee on Ministry. 9:00 a.m. via Zoom.

Nov 22: EA Council Meeting. 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Nov 27: FVA Council Meeting. 6:00 p.m. via Zoom.

Employment, Education, & Resources
Employment Opportunities

Ministerial opportunities within the United Church of Christ.

Recently Added Lay Employment Opportunities:

Arlington Heights, St. John UCC seeks PT Sunday School Coordinator

Bensenville, Faith Community UCC seeks PT Director of Music

Champaign, Community UCC/UCC Campus Ministry seek FT Director of Youth Ministry/Campus Ministry

Chicago, Community Renewal Society - Multiple Openings

Chicago, Wellington UCC seeks PT Church Administrator

Winnetka Congregational Church seeks PT Director of Youth Ministry

Yorkville Congregational UCC seeks FT Christian Education 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.

UCC Everywhere Websites

United Church of Christ

When someone looks for a church to join, they usually start by searching churches near them on the internet. If your church is not online, they might miss out on a lovely church home just around the corner. UCC Everywhere (UCCE) is a program at the national setting of the United Church of Christ that builds easy-to-use, affordable, and modern websites for local churches. UCC Everywhere websites were designed to accommodate almost any content type. Making changes is simple and video tutorials are provided to walk you through each step. Websites are also designed to look great on computers, tablets, and phones. Church members or faith seekers can easily find the information they need whenever and wherever they need it. First Congregational UCC of Menomonie needed an updated website to share information and sermons. UCCE was the perfect solution for them to manage and maintain their content. See their site at

Visit to learn more or reach out to our Customer Support Specialist, Aidan Spencer, via email at or phone at 216-736-2185.

Free at Home COVID-19 Tests

Effective September 25, residential households in the U.S. can order one set of four (4) free at-home tests from the United States Postal Service again. Please keep in mind:

Click this link to order your free COVID test kits. Need help placing an order for at-⁠home tests? Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).

The U.S. government will continue to make COVID-⁠19 tests available to uninsured individuals and underserved communities through existing outreach programs. Please contact a HRSA health center, Test to Treat site, or ICATT location near you to learn how to access low- or no-cost COVID-⁠19 tests provided by the federal government.

When Black Female Pastors Speak



When black female preachers speak we should all listen. The insight and intention provided by black theologians illustrate their ability to bring the history of black culture and religious experience into the life of Christians and the liturgical life of the church. For centuries black mothers have passed on wisdom – in the white world, in the black community, and with men. This wisdom has illustrated how God reveals prophetic word and action for Christian living. Learn more/sign up here!

We are proud to offer this collection of conversations with some of the most impactful black voices in the progressive Chrisitan space. We have brought together some important themes coupled with visionary insights from:

  • Rev. Jacqui Lewis
  • Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson
  • Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown
  • Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglass
  • Rev. Traci Blackmon
  • Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers
  • Bishop Yvette Flunder.
New Resources on Stewardship
IL Conference Stewardship Committee
The Illinois Conference UCC Stewardship Committee is offering four new Stewardship programs as a resource to our local churches. These programs have been designed by the Stewardship Committee co-chairs, Larry McCure and Kay Quinney-Burnard, along with Pat McCure and Rev. Eric Quinney-Burnard. Themes and scripture along with suggested formats are offered in each program. Please feel free to email Larry and Kay if you have any questions.

OCWM & Stewardship Resources
United Church of Christ

These resources highlight work being done in the National Setting that is supported by Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support. 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. Various download options are available here.
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STM Overview
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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 to your church’s mailing list.
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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: 
This communication is made possible by your contributions to

Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM)