I spend quite a bit of time on the road. When I'm driving around this beautiful state I am often struck by the sheer number of small churches. In the United States there is at least one church present in every hamlet and many more located outside of towns. Some of the churches I see are no longer open as churches. They may be shuttered or turned into a private residence or repurposed for a community center or a real estate office. I often wonder what happened to the individuals who attended when it was a church. Where are their descendants now?
Some of you may know that the majority of Americans attend small churches of less than 100 members. This makes sense - social psychology research shows that people can keep track of and function well within groups of about 100. And churches of less than 100 members can and do thrive. Thriving is a holistic concept and involves several aspects. Within thriving small churches the congregation has a vital sense of their own Christian mission. They know and embrace their unique role is within the wider community. They uphold an outward focus. They care for their own while also sharing Christ's healing power in the wider area with those who are, for example, hungry, victims of disaster, struggling with addiction, or needing educational support. A church that only takes care of its own has forsaken its primary duty: to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and follow in his ways.
A thriving church also prays - for its own ministry and for the world. And it practices hospitality by welcoming the stranger. I know of one very small church that was reluctant to hold ESL classes (a ministry the pastor had suggested) because the members feared that the people they were serving might "steal the stained glass windows." That is not an example of a thriving church. Living out gospel values as a community can be deeply challenging. This is the cost we willingly bear as the cost of discipleship, because we know that living this disciple-life connects us to a well of joy that is beyond what the world offers.
Thriving churches are focused on the here and now. They are not beholden to the past, although they might celebrate it. But more importantly, they are not beholden to the future. They are not clinging to questions of their future or what will happen to them. Instead, they recognize that with the time they have they must respond to the call of Jesus in every way they can. And they trust that God is with them now and into the future.
Finally, thriving churches are not necessarily growing in numbers. When I meet with small churches they often ask about growth. They ask me, how can we grow? As if growth in numbers is the most important aspect of ministry. I encourage them to set aside talk of numerical growth. After all, in some communities this will not be possible due to demographic and historical reasons. However, thriving is possible, no matter the size. A church with a clear sense of mission and purpose rooted in the transformative power of the gospel has the potential to bring living water to those who are dying of thirst.
Look around you. Who is in need of living water? Remarkably, once we focus on that question our concern with numbers recedes. And we can show the world how many of our churches are small AND mighty.
"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit." Luke 12:35
National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. Disaster takes many forms. You do not have to be in the path of a hurricane or a tornado to experience a disaster. Preparedness is the key, and it may well save your life. Educate yourself and others in the ways to be prepared. Here a new resource available to you.
Each year the UCC partners with Blessed Tomorrow to conduct a climate survey. This survey helps us know what our members are thinking, how opinions change from year to year, where future possibilities for collective action reside, and how our denomination compares with the broader population. Take this 15-minute survey now!
"Wonder and Awe: A Weekend to Celebrate Creation"
October 18, 2019 - October 20, 2019. Register by October 3rd.
A Marriage Enrichment Weekend - "It's a Wonderful Life"
Friday, November 8, 2019 at 7 p.m. - Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 3 p.m. register online.
Fall Women's Retreat: Living Well - In The Moment
Friday, November 15, 2019 at 7:00PM - Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 11AM Leaders will be Sue D'heedene and Winnie Kowalik.
Men's Retreat:Seasons of a Man's Life
Friday, January 17, 2020 at 7PM - Sunday January 19, 2020 at 1PM register online
Wonder & Awe: A Weekend to Celebrate Creation
Would you love to spend a beautiful fall weekend at Hartman Center, but perhaps your church hasn't yet arranged a retreat? Come join folks from Shiloh UCC in Danville along with others, for a for a fun and meaningful weekend as we worship, explore our faith, relax, and enjoy nature, good food and good company at our conference's beautiful camp and retreat center.
We'll focus on what it means to be "Alive in Creation" throughout the weekend, based on Brian McLaren's "We Make the Road by Walking", a book on spiritual formation, reorientation and activation (preview available on Amazon.)
Cost will be about $112 per person for two nights lodging and 4 meals, but exact amount will depend on how many registered by then. You're also welcome to join us for the day on Saturday, and the cost for this would be about $28 - $50 depending on number of meals you'd like.
For questions or to sign up, please contact Darcy Decker email@example.com. If you are interested, please sign up as soon as possible, but no later than October 3rd. Checks should be made payable to Shiloh UCC, with "retreat" on the memo line, and mailed to 512 Bloom St Danville PA 17821.
Hartman Center Fall Festival
October 12th, 2019
5076 Old US Hwy 322
Mark your calendar and join us for live music, memories, games, and fun. Events include a rededication of our renovated Craft Shop. And this year, we're introducing Rachel Hartman's own locally famous chicken and waffles! Come get it while it lasts.
Penn Central Conference's FIRST Men's Retreat
This promises to be the beginning of a new tradition in the Conference or maybe a first step in a Men's movement!
Seasons of a Man's Life is the theme of the January 17-19 Men's Retreat at Hartman Center. Using the familiar text of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (To everything there is a season), the men will have an opportunity to experience the phrases of that text in multiple ways (talks, workshops, interactive displays, films, and worshipful moments.)
THE IMMEDIATE NEED is for anyone interested, to join the planning team at the next meeting, Tuesday, October 8 (7 p.m.) at the Conference Office in Harrisburg. If you or a layperson(s) from your church would come just let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org The cost of the retreat will be $120. On-line reservations are now available at the Hartman Center Website. The Retreat begins Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. and ends Sunday, Jan. 19 early afternoon.
Confirmation Retreat Planning Meeting
The Penn Central Conference Confirmation Retreat will be held March 27 - 29, 2020 at Hartman Center. This weekend is always a great opportunity for our confirmands to explore "Being The Church"
and to connect with other youth.
Planning for this retreat is done by the Pastors and/or youth leaders of the participating churches. We will gather for an initial planning meeting on Monday November 18 from 1 - 3 pm at the conference office, and Zoom will be avalable.
Please contact Pastor Patty Dodds as soon as possible if your church is interested in participating. 1-717-502-2246 or Program@HartmanCenter.com
50th Anniversary CROP Hunger Walks
CROP Hunger Walks - stepping up to end hunger since 1969.
Celebrating the 50
th anniversary of the national CROP Hunger Walk movement; CROP Hunger Walks continue to raise millions of dollars each year to help end hunger and poverty through long-term sustainable approaches to significantly reduce or eliminate hunger. In each CROP Hunger Walk community, 25% of money raised comes back to local agencies. Across the country, over 1600 local agencies receive funds from CROP Hunger Walks
This year some 800 communities nationwide are joining together in interfaith CROP Hunger Walks around the theme "Stepping up to End Hunger Since 1969." Because teens and their communities in North Dakota and Pennsylvania cared 50 years ago, the CROP Hunger Walk is now America's main hunger walk. Millions of people around the nation have since responded to the invitation to end hunger. We celebrate this 50-year legacy and challenge ourselves to keeping moving forward until there is enough for all.
Join Hummelstown UCC and other churches in the Hershey/Hummelstown area at the CROP Hunger Walk in Hershey on October 27th.
Click here to learn more.Interesting Factoid - George Sturgeon, who worked for Church World Service and started the CROP Walk, was a member of Hummelstown UCC at the time of his passing.
The 48th Harrisburg Region CROP Walk will be held on October 20 on the Capital Steps (3rd St. side) beginning at 1:30pm. For more information on how churches may become involved, contact Kathy Neely, Hbg. CROP Treasurer at
email@example.com or 717-545-3782.
Every year, on the 1st Saturday in December, Salem UCC, 231 Chestnut Street, Harrisburg, Pa. hosts a free toy giveaway with Mr. & Mrs. Santa. We also try to have small items available for the children, if they would like something for a parent or grandparent. Also last year the children asked if we could have the gifts wrapped so that they had something to open on Christmas Day. Last year 120 children attended. The only requirement Salem asks is that they preregister for the event so that we have an idea how many will show up.
We were wondering if any of the other Churches would be interested in helping giving monetary to Salem's/toy give away or donating new toys to this cause? Please make checks payable to: "Salem UCC" memo line "Salem's Closet/toy giveaway". Toys should be unwrapped. Deadline for monetary/toys is November 25th. We never turn a child away and the numbers keep growing. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact: Sandy Sgrignoli at 717-635-0569.
A life in ministry can be characterized as alternating between times of sheer joy and aching sorrow.
This workshop explores the dynamics that contribute to a tug of war that sometimes
occurs in ministry around the issue of power. The workshop invites us to explore the
dynamics and experience of power and its counterpart-powerlessness. How do we view, implement and respond to its exercise in our lives and churches? (3 hours of Boundary Training) To register,
November 20 - Rev. Donna Hale and Rev. Gloria McPherson,
The Opioid Crisis
It seems as though every corner of American life has been touched by the current Opioid Addiction Crisis, so much so that at General Synod this summer the
UCC urged every congregation to recognize it at a health epidemic. Revs. Donna Hale and Gloria McPherson have been working in their communities for some time now in various capacities. Gloria will be talking with us about the physical and personal realities of addiction, and Donna will follow with ways for churches to assist in the spiritual recovery as well as through community partnerships. They both highly recommend the book
In Pain: A Bioethicist's Personal Struggle with Opioids, by Travis Rieder, as a good read in preparation for our time together, however the reading is not required. (3 hours of Continuing Education) To register,
All forums are for clergy and will be held at
St. Thomas UCC - 6490 Linglestown Road - Harrisburg, PA 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Training and Ongoing Education
With 5 General Synod Resolutions at General Synod, there is no time like the present to learn more about Environmental Justice and Greening the Church! These short classes are open to lay members and clergy alike online via Pathways Theological Program in the UCC's Southeast Conference.
In support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month come see this impactful exhibit at St. John's United Church of Christ. This exhibit honors the individual lives of those in Centre County who were murdered in acts of domestic violence. Prior to their deaths, each victim held a place at the table in their family's homes. Their murders now leave an empty place at those tables.
Behind each of the victims' place settings is information about their homicides.
Centre Safe hopes this exhibit will help raise awareness about domestic violence and the impact of this crime on our community.
SAVE THE DATE
RAISE YOUR VOICE against Domestic Violence!
Are you interested in learning how to promote and create an environment of inclusion, safety and support for victims of domestic violence?
Do you want to gain the knowledge and tools that you need to address domestic violence to help increase the likelihood that victims may feel safer seeking support, services and information?
If YES, then join St. John's United Church of Christ on Thursday, October 10, 2019 from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm as we welcome staff from Centre Safe to discuss these topics.
A follow-up workshop will be held on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 12 noon to continue the discussion on creating a core leadership group in our faith community with a shared mission to continue to work on preventing violence, supporting victims and holding offenders accountable.
St. Paul's UCC Chicken Pot Pie Dinner, Bazaar, Craft Sale & Flea Market
FREE games for all ages include poke the pumpkin, pumpkin ring toss, pumpkin golf, candy corn toss, face painting, coin toss with proceeds benefiting a local charity, and MORE! FREE hayride for all attendees (subject to signing a liability waiver). FREE entry into a pie baking contest will be held for all those interested with Taster's Choice prizes awarded in various categories include under 18 and both female and male over 18. Taster's tickets for $3 will be available for purchase day of the event. FREE entry into a scarecrow decorating contest! Bring your best dressed scarecrow to the Fall Festival by 10:30AM the morning of! Scarecrows will be judged and winners announced with the pie baking contest winners at 5PM. Winners will be awarded to the best adult and child decorated scarecrow! FREE entertainment by Woody Wolfe, Alex Cooke, and Soulmanna!
Part-Time is Plenty: Thriving Without Full-Time Clergy
Saturday, October 12th
9:00 am -12:00 pm (Registration @ 8:30 am)
1580 Shenkel Rd., Pottstown
With award-winning journalist and author Rev. G. Jeffrey MacDonald
Let's face it, budgets are tight for churches. Switching from full-time to part-time clergy can help save money. But would switching to part-time lead to irreversible decline? This workshop says no, it doesn't have to. In fact, the switch to part-time can lead to more vitality if it's managed well to repurpose assets and embrace new opportunities. Journalist, author and part-time UCC minister G. Jeffrey MacDonald will share insights from his forthcoming book, Part-Time is Plenty: Thriving Without Full-Time Clergy. He'll shed light on what's happening in 20 vital mainline congregations that made the switch. He'll guide attendees through exercises tailored to discern what's possible and promising in their particular ministry settings. Participants will leave with practical tips and a game plan for joining the ranks of thriving congregations with part-time pastors.
PCC Clergy and lay leaders have been invited to register and attend by PSEC.
Tea with MOM
Sunday, October 13th
3:00PM - 5:00PM
11 Main St.
Quentin, PA 17083
Join us for a facilitated discussion about how the preparation for authorization might be changing in light of the new Manual on Ministry. We will explore the possibilities of multiple paths and how they work. We will also discuss the new assessment committee to be formed at the Conference setting for assessment of all Members in Discernment.
We promise great food and stimulating dialogue with colleagues! Please register in advance and we look forward to hearing your reflections on this critical topic for the church.
Preaching Like the Choir
How to prepare and present sermons with rhythm, melody and prose with Rev. Cean James.
PCC Clergy have been invited to register and attend by PSEC.
Pastor Appreciation Breakfast Invitation
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The chaplain of the Pastoral Care ministries of Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village CCRC, Lewisburg, Pa recognizes your ministry to our community and are greatly appreciative of the love that you give to our residents. In thanks and praise for your commitment to sharing God's love, we are celebrating October as Clergy Appreciation Month with a Pastor Appreciation Breakfast.
All clergy and members of ministry in our communities are invited to a Pastor Appreciation Breakfast on October 24, 2019 at 9 a.m. on the campus of Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village, Lewisburg, PA. The breakfast will be an informal time of food and fellowship amongst local clergy and members of ministry. It will provide everyone with an opportunity to connect with other workers of the harvest.
The Village Common building on the western side of Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village's campus off of Reitz Boulevard will be the site of the breakfast.
The address of the Village Common building is:
6 E. Tressler Boulevard, Lewisburg, Pa 17837
We certainly hope you will be able to join us for this time of fellowship celebrating our shared ministry with the residents of Riverwoods Senior Living and Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village.
Please R.S.V.P. by email or phone message to Reverend Marian K. Anderson by October 18, 2019 to be included in the count for breakfast.
Keep your calendar open for
Saturday, October 26th!
Join us for Mission Central's 5
th annual 5K Run/Walk!
This is the perfect combination of a family-friendly event and a great 5K. This is professionally timed with awards for top overall male and female runners and awards for the top male and female runners in each age group.
For those who aren't serious runners, this is a great morning walk. Families/groups of friends/church groups can participate and have a blast together... and you can walk our warehouse!
Seminary professors present free talks on current topics in Santee Chapel at 10:00 am on Nov. 19, Jan. 21andMarch 24. Attendees who buy lunch afterwards at the Gypsy Kitchen on campus receive a complimentary dessert.
Nov. 19 - The Future of Religion in America: The Situation 20 Years From Now
Who's in the pews? Join Dr. Lee Barrett, Professor of Systematic Theology, for a look at American worship in 2040.
Jan. 21 - Christianity and Immigration
Dr. Lee Barrett explores a prickly contemporary topic with deep, ancient roots.
March 24 - Women Who Speak for God: Females Among the Prophets
During Women's History Month, Dr. Julia M. O'Brien explores the stories of women called "prophets" in the Bible, and why they are important to our understanding of prophecy.
Download a printable flyer for your bulletin board or to share with a friend here.
Music Sundays at the Seminary
FREE MONTHLY CONCERTS IN SANTEE CHAPEL
Sunday afternoons at 4:00 pm.
Complimentary light refreshments will be served after each show.
Oct. 13 - Organ Spooktacular
Whether you know it as Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, or Dia de Muertos, the season inspires spooky music. Keyboard duo Allegro con Fuoco will perform scary favorites on our majestic Hunsicker organ including music from Phantom of the Opera and Bach's famous Toccata & Fugue in D Minor.
Nov. 10 - Leaves of Many Colors
Dr. William Wright leads the 24-member Franklin & Marshall College Chamber Singers in spirituals and sacred motets, madrigals and contemporary art music celebrating the beauty of human voices in harmony.
Dec. 8- A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices
Get your Christmas spirit flowing and feet tapping with a heart-warming holiday program of music for voice, organ, piano and Celtic harp. Presented by Scott Siciliano, pastor, composer, musician and Seminary grad known for his angelic voice and musical versatility.
More performances in 2020 to be announced! Download a printable flyer for your bulletin board or to share with a friend
Inspiring, educating and nurturing those who minister through music and the arts
WHO ARE WE?
The United Church of Christ Musicians Association, Inc. (UCCMA) is a non-profit, national organization with a membership made up of musicians, clergy and interested laity. We are a grassroots, member-supported association run entirely by volunteers.
UCCMA was founded in 1993 by a small group of musicians in Connecticut who felt a need for professional support from colleagues in our denomination. We incorporated in 1994 and held our first national conference in 1998.
As we have grown both in membership and mission, our focus has broadened to include individuals with many different roles, both formal and informal, in their churches' music and worship life. People from other denominations have always been welcome.
WHAT DO WE OFFER?
We offer professional development and support, education programs, networking, resources, publications and conferences.
To those who join UCCMA, we provide:
* UCC Musicians News, an electronic newsletter published six times a year
* Worship, Music and Ministry, a
professional journal published three times a year
* Job placement listing service
* Biennial national conference offering
an array of workshops and worship services
* Online address directory
* Supportive environment for learning
skills and connecting with colleagues