A 'Prosperous' New Year? No Thanks

By Amy Lignitz Harken, Minister, Mattapoisett Congregational Church

Happy 2019!

May it be a year of dignity, vigorous compassion, and robust declarations of God’s inclusionary vision. You may have your own desires for this new year.

So far, no one has wished me a “prosperous New Year.” To be honest, I’m glad for it.

Two years ago, my stack of Christmas cards included two that wished me prosperity for the new year, in hand-written notes scrawled by the senders under warm tidings for Christmas happiness, peace, and joy.

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Church Treasurers: Last Date for 2018 Contributions

The last date for the Conference to receive all contributions intended for 2018 is January 15, 2019. This includes contributions toward United Church Mission and OCWM Basic Support, as well as all of the UCC special offerings – Neighbors in Need, One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthen the Church, and the Christmas Fund. It also includes Conference fellowship dues for those churches not participating in United Church Mission.
Your church’s financial support of the Massachusetts Conference and National Setting of the United Church of Christ is greatly appreciated. 

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Weird Church and Transformational Visioning - A New Video Resource

There are new forms of spiritual communities emerging all around us. The Spirit is birthing something in our midst! 

The Rev. Don Remick, Transitional Interim Conference Minister at the Massachusetts Conference, has offered a glimpse into these exciting and intriguing ministries captured in the book Weird Church by Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon, as well as through the research of others, in a number of settings.

One of those presentations, held at the Hancock Church in Lexington, was video recorded. That recording, with supporting materials, is online at:

Many Voices One Mission: Love Knows No Borders

By The Rev. Kelly Gallagher, Associate Conference Minister

The line of 400 or more people walked quietly down the beach, 4 by 4 in a strange and fascinating procession. On a cool December day in San Diego, with signs and birds, in stoles and clergy collars, robes and bright t-shirts, this mixed posada moved slowly and deliberately toward the border between Mexico and the United States. There were people of many races, many colors, many traditions, ages, abilities and backgrounds from all over the US – people of faith gathering at this wall to bring witness and word: Love Knows No Borders.

In that group of so many were people from the Tri-Conference, in San Diego for the Authorizing Ministry for the 21st Century Conference offered every other year for ACMs and Conference Ministers to discuss common issues and best practices around Search and Call, church vitality and such. There was something powerful about sharing this time together in this place – at this border. 

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Many Voices One Mission: Where Two or Three Are Gathered

By Karen Ziel, Minister of Faith Formation and Leadership for the CT Conference, UCC

It began with an invitation from my long-time friend and colleague, Ms. Debbie Gline Allen, the Consultant for Christian Education and Youth Ministry at the MA Conference, UCC.  Come along, she invited, and join me in creating an event I imagine will offer local church leaders for faith formation an opportunity to “summit”! (I’m aware I have used a verb here.)

The idea of a summit intrigued me. Imagine the possibilities! She explained that she envisioned an opportunity to gather those from our local churches who are committed to Christian formation and education.

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Many VoicesMany Voices, One Mission is a regular series highlighting the ministries of the CT, MA, and RI Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Defining Church Vitality - Let Me Count the Ways

By Herb Miller, The Parish Paper

Most pastors, laypersons, and denominational leaders develop a personal theory that says one particular factor is the key to congregational vitality. Each of those theories is correct and incorrect. Each “favorite factor” is important, but church vitality is a result of a long list of factors.

What Is the Church’s Macro Mission?

What Is the Church’s Micro Mission?

What Is the Church’s Method Mission?

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First Church in Marlborough Brings Advent Home

Most people know very well the tradition of lighting an Advent wreath at church. But First Church in Marlborough is doing something different - it encourages families to take it home as well. 

The idea came up during a discussion between the Sunday School co-superintendents Anita Stetson and Lynette Biggs and Pastor Kaz on how to make Advent more special for families and children. Pastor Kaz, who comes originally from Poland, suggested a practice he knows from parts of Poland, Germany and Scandinavia: having an Advent wreath at home. The family gathers in the evening around it, lights the proper candle, says a short prayer, and sings together.

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Conference Events

Active Threat (Active Shooter) Training
Jan. 12, 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Quincy Point Congregational Church

Training is presented by Blue-U Defense. 

Worship and Sacraments
Jan. 12, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Edwards Church, Northampton

Led by the Rev. Dr. Mary Luti, long-time seminary educator and pastor, and author of Teresa of Avila's Way. Part of the Christian Education Certification program, this course is open to all.

Grief - A Long Journey
Jan. 15, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Edwards House, Framingham, MA

Rev. Dr. Claire  Bamberg will explore what a grief cycle “really” looks like, and how to navigate it best for inner peace and outer self-assurance.

Clergy Income Tax Seminar
Jan. 23, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Edwards House, Framingham, MA

For clergy and treasurers to learn the tax rules unique to clergy. Led by Forrest “Al” Eaton, Jr., CPA.

Non-Directive Coaching Skills Basics for Busy Pastors
Jan. 29, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Edwards House, Framingham, MA

Led by Rev. Todd Weir and Rev. Jim Latimer, non-directive coaching teaches you how to listen powerfully and not give advice. 

Faith Formation Summit
Feb. 2, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Niantic Community Church, Niantic, CT

For Formation Leaders, Christian Education Board Members, Pastors and anyone dedicated to the work of forming disciples!  Join the faith formation staff of the three southern New England Conferences for a time of learning, sharing, strategizing, and conversation designed to enrich our work in forming disciples.

Resource for Pastoral Relations Committees
Feb. 17, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
First Congregational Church of Hadley, MA

Training for your pastoral relations committee, best practices, and ways to be proactive in establishing a group. Led by The Rev. Kelly Gallagher.

Human and Faith Development
Feb. 23, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Centre Congregational Church,
Lynnfield, MA

Led by  Nancy Sides, Certified Christian Educator. Part of the Christian Education Certification program, this course is open to all.

Confirmation Retreat 
March 1 - 2
Prindle Pond Conference Center, Charlton, MA

Open to youth grades 8 & up currently engaged in confirmation classes.

Theories of Religious Education
March 9, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Edwards Church, Northampton, MA

A Christian Education Certification class, open to all.

Super Saturday
March 16, 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Minnechaug Regional High School, Wilbraham, MA

A full day of worship, workshops and networking.

Active Threat (Active Shooter) Training
March 16, 9:30 AM
Second Congregational Church, Beverly, MA

Training is presented by Blue-U Defense. 

Youth Retreat: A Spiritually Healthy Relationship with Technology
March 22 - 24
Craigville Retreat Center

 A retreat for youth grades 7 and up facilitated by Rev. Matt Carriker and Rev. Sarah Buteux.  

Application Deadline: June 3
Writer's Workshop - The Art of the Personal Essay: Make A Point. Change the World
Nov, 11 - 17
Warren Conference Center, 
Ashland, MA

With the Rev. John Hudson. Good non-fiction spiritual writing makes a point, tells a story, shares a memory, constructs an argument and always gives life to an idea.




The Rev. Sue Remick called to Congregational Church of Westborough as Interim Pastor
Effective: Jan. 2, 2019


The Rev. Ms. Katherine Schofield called to Old South Church in Boston as Interim Associate Minister
Effective: Jan. 2, 2019


Other Events of Interest

Webinar: From Climate Reports to Moral Imperatives
Jan. 9, 1:00 PM

Recently, a couple of major climate reports have been released that highlight the impact of climate change on our world and the urgent need to act. To help faith communities understand the insights of recent major climate reports and the moral imperatives that arise from them, this webinar will have three special guests: Katharine Hayhoe, Naomi Oreskes, and Jim Antal. 

Webinar: Acting on Faith: Climate Action in 2019
Jan. 11, 1:00 PM to 1:30 PM

Connecticut Conference Minister The Rev. Kent Siladi talks to Pam Arifian, Director of the Northeast Environmental Justice Center at Silver Lake in a follow-up to UCC Council for Climate Justice webinar (above).

Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Day of Service
Jan. 21, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Brandeis University, Waltham

Come honor and learn from the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), pack meals for food pantries and congregations that serve the homeless community, and participate in social justice discussions with Brandeis clubs and local non-profits.

Longing for Belonging
March 28 - 30, 2018
Barbara Harris Camp and Conference Center,
Greenfield, NH

Explore radical hospitality through fellowship, worship, faith formation and outreach. Participants will leave with a specific plan for how to engage the rest of the congregation in this work and how to get started.


The Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ

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