Having trouble viewing this email? Click here June 7, 2017

Hurricane season is here; are you ready?

Dave CyrilThe 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is here. It started June 1 and continues through Nov. 30, and forecasters are predicting it will be another above average year for tropical storm activity, with as many as 17 named storms, including April's Tropical Storm Arlene. Are you ready?

Although Florida had a bit of wake-up call with last year's very active hurricane season, the state has been extremely lucky of late, with no major hurricanes making landfall since the devastating 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. Still, Hurricane Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida last September since 2005, and Hurricane Matthew, a major Category 5 storm, skirted the East Coast in October, causing significant damage in the Daytona Beach area. Some hotels there still have not reopened, and many are still undergoing repairs.

Many new residents have moved to Florida since the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, when multiple major storms wreaked havoc in Florida. Having never experienced such damaging storms firsthand, new residents sometimes don't take tropical storms as seriously as they should, and preparing for hurricanes that may or may not make landfall here often isn't a priority. After a dozen years of relative quiet on the storm front, even some Floridians who lived through Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan in 2004 have become somewhat complacent.

But it truly pays to get prepared for the hurricane season early, and certainly before storms are threatening. When storms develop and forecasters predict they'll make landfall in Florida, it's amazing how quickly the emergency supplies you'll want to have on hand fly off store shelves. Often, by then, it's too late to prepare.

So don't delay. Put your family disaster plans in place and get your bug-out bags ready today. Then stock up on emergency supplies like weather radios, batteries, water, non-perishable food and flashlights. If a hurricane does head our way, you'll be glad you did.

If you've never prepared for hurricane season before, UCC Disaster Ministries coordinators from across the country this year have assembled a helpful Disaster Preparedness Guide. You'll find links to the various documents and recommendations in the guide below. In addition, there are local church disaster preparedness and response plan planning guidelines available here.

Stay safe!

Dave Cyril
Communications Director/Office Manager

On June 12, church bells will ring 49 times for Pulse victims

A year ago, on June 12, 2016, on a Sunday morning, many of us awakened to the reality that Latin Night at Pulse Night Club, an LGBTQ+ community gathering spot … a sanctuary … a safe-haven, in the midst of Pride Celebration, had become the site of one of the worse mass shootings in U.S. history. Many of us gathered afterwards to pray and grieve for the 49 lives lost, the 53 wounded survivors, and some of us, with difficulty, found the energy to pray for the lone individual who lost his connection to love.

This year Orlando is calling for a day of unity on June 12 dedicated to the lives lost at Pulse Orlando: "Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness." There are many ways that the Orlando community will be actively engaged, but one way that we as communities of faith are being invited to participate is with the use of our church bells. We are invited to ring our church bells 49 times at noon on June 12. -> Read more ->

CNN Freedom Project puts spotlight on CIW, Fair Food Program

Last week, CNN Freedom Project — a new series designed to "amplify the voices of the victims of modern-day slavery, highlight success stories and help unravel the tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life" — turned its spotlight on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Fair Food Program (FFP), and the result was nothing short of stunning. -> Read more ->

In the second installment of the remarkable three-part video report on the FFP, CNN takes a closer look at the Campaign for Fair Food, and in particular the Wendy's Boycott. -> Read more ->

OSU administration ignores student protests, plea to dump Wendy's

Ohio State University President Michael Drake and his administration recently took a stand against students, faculty, faith leaders, international labor rights experts and farmworkers to renew Wendy's contract for three more years. The administration waited until the school year was over and students were safely at home to announce the decision.

Students have called for Fair Food Nation to join a national call-in action to President Drake's office. -> Read more ->

UCC churches and congregations are urged to support the students and farmworkers by completing the following Google form calling for OSU to reverse its decision and end its contract with Wendy's -> here! ->

Refugee Justice Sunday

Embrace the stranger, promote welcome on Refugee Justice Sunday

While the number of refugees resettled in the United States has dropped sharply after the change in presidential administrations, the State Department announced last week it will nearly double its quota, from around 900 refugee arrivals per week to about 1,500 — giving faith communities time to take note of the policy shift as they prepare to mark Refugee Justice Sunday, June 18.

United Church of Christ advocates are urging the church to become immersed in refugee justice, by displaying solidarity with refugees, by calling or writing lawmakers and advocating for refugee and immigrant support, inviting local media to a worship service that honors the difficult journeys of refugees and immigrants, and even building relationships with refugee resettlement offices and offering financial support. -> Read more ->

Free workshop on responding to dementia set for Aug. 9

Do you have challenges communicating with members of your congregation who may be living with Alzheimers or another type of dementia? Or perhaps you're not sure how best to help families or individuals affected by dementia? Or maybe you are struggling to care for an older loved one with dementia yourself?

If this sounds like you, a free workshop entitled "Dementia Response for Pastoral Caregivers" may be just what you're looking for. Open to both clergy and laypeople and led by certified dementia care trainer Rev. Linn Possell, the workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9, at the Florida Church House, 9300 University Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817. Lunch will be provided.

An estimated 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimers dementia in 2017. Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia, accounting for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of cases, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., fifth among people 65 and older.

But the numbers really don't tell the whole story here. Individuals living with dementia and their loved ones too often become isolated and struggle in silence. And most people simply don't know how to react to those living with dementia or how best to help them.

In this workshop, you'll learn not only about the changes that happen in the brain and the challenges that come with these changes but also how to modify the environment and your worship services to meet the needs of those living with dementia. You'll also learn the best strategies for communicating with and assisting families and individuals affected by dementia.

Rev. Possell is the author of Alzheimer's: A Beautiful Spirit Celebrated, which has been endorsed by the North Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, and A Dementia Guide for Communities of Faith and Clergy. She brings firsthand knowledge from being a caregiver to her mother, has worked in a specialized assisted living facility for individuals living with dementia and now works with Positive Approach as a dementia specialist, trainer, coach, consultant and speaker. Come learn, share and help create new possibilities for support and ministry to and with individuals living with dementia and their families.

Space is limited, and registration will close once 30 people have signed up. -> Register today!. ->

Webinar offers help in improving safety, security of facilities

Join the webinar "Protecting Your Organization – Resources, Partners, and Tips to Help Keep Your Office, House of Worship, or Community Center Safe" on Tuesday, June 13, at 2 p.m.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, members of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, and others offer numerous resources to assist faith-based and community organizations with their efforts to prepare for all types of hazards, whether natural or human-caused. This webinar will highlight federal resources and partners to help community and faith leaders improve the safety and security of their facilities. To register for the webinar and ensure you receive a recording of it -> Click here! ->

In addition, FEMA has more resources on protecting houses of worship -> here ->

Looking to develop your safety and security plan? The DOJ National Institute of Justice, in partnership with DHS and subject matter experts from the faith community and law enforcement, has an app for that, and you can find -> more details here ->

Gun Violence Prevention

This sign outside The United Church of Tampa serves as a grim reminder of the thousands of lives lost to gun violence since a 20-year-old man fatally shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, on Dec. 14, 2012. This picture was taken in late May, and the tally does not include the six people who died in a shooting at Fiamma in Orlando on June 5, including the shooter. The Florida Conference United Church of Christ supports and recently voted to join the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocates for meaningful gun law reform for a safer Florida.

Upcoming professional ethics (boundary) training workshops

All authorized ministers with their standing in The Florida Conference need to take three units of professional ethics education before 2019 to maintain their standing, and retired clergy need to take one unit of this training. Several upcoming workshops will fulfill these requirements.

The "Roles and Relationships" basic professional ethics workshop, worth one unit of training, covers topics including power and vulnerability, dual relationships, the pulpit, and personal needs and self-care. Cost is $35, and lunch is included. Rev. Leigh McCaffrey will lead the next workshop Oct. 12 from noon to 4 p.m. at Seabreeze United Church of Christ, 501 N. Wild Olive Ave., Daytona Beach, FL 32118. -> Register here! ->

In addition, a three-hour, live, online version of this workshop will be offered June 18 from 3-6 p.m. via Zoom videoconference. Cost is $25. This session also will be led by Rev. Leigh McCaffrey, and a personal computer, laptop or tablet is required. Participation is limited to 10 people, each of whom will be asked to write a one-page reflection paper after the event for submission to the Committee on Church and Ministry. -> Register here! ->

A similar, online workshop (also worth one unit of training) entitled "Social Media Ethics" will be offered July 20 from 1-3 p.m. via Zoom videoconference. It will cover basic ethical concerns in using social media and also best practices for authorized ministers. Cost is $25. This session will be led by Revs. John Vertigan and Leigh McCaffrey, and a personal computer, laptop or tablet are required. Again, participation is limited to 10 people, each of whom will be asked to write a one-page reflection paper after the event for submission to the Committee on Church and Ministry. -> Register here! ->

Your gift to Back Bay Mission could be doubled

A generous donor has offered to match up to $10,000 for Back Bay Mission's client sustainability programs. That means your gift to the Mission could be worth twice as much!

Back Bay Mission's client sustainability programs meet the immediate needs of the poor and marginalized of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and help people begin their journeys out of poverty. This year, we're raising $150,000 for three of these vital programs: Bridges Out of Poverty, our community health partner, and our veterans support fund.

Until Aug. 31, up to $10,000 in gifts to these programs will be matched. You can learn more about these programs, and make your gift, on the Mission's website: https://thebackbaymission.org/sustainability/.

Matching grants available from Disaster Ministries and Florida Conference

The United Church of Christ's Florida Conference is matching UCC National Disaster Ministries' matching grant of $250 for Florida congregations to assemble CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets and/or CWS School and Hygiene Kits.

UCC National Disaster Ministries is offering the matching grant to any UCC congregation in the United States. Click here for full information!

"Now, Florida UCC churches can make $750 worth of disaster cleanup buckets that will help the next time disaster strikes," said the Rev. John Vertigan, Florida Conference minister. "Here is a great example of the local church, the conference, and the national setting partnering together in ministry." -> Read more ->

New UCC Logo

New logo reflects UCC's purpose, vision, mission statements

Beginning with General Synod 2017 in Baltimore this summer, the United Church of Christ will begin the transition to a new logo for the denomination. The logo, last redesigned in 2004, has been updated to reflect both tradition and innovation within the church as it faces the challenges and opportunities of Christian witness in the coming decades.

The new logo's design and colors are intended to complement the graphic representation of "A Just World for All," developed to illustrate new Purpose, Vision, and Mission Statements adopted by the national setting of the church last fall. -> Read more ->

Conference minister available to preach at your church

Conference Minister John Vertigan enjoys the chance to worship and preach in local congregations of the Florida Conference, to learn about the mission and ministry of our local churches and to celebrate the pastoral leadership of our authorized ministers that touches so many lives in so many communities.

Though not a substitute preacher (the settled pastor should plan to co-lead in worship), John welcomes the opportunity to build relationships that are in keeping with our United Church of Christ vision and values. He is currently accepting invitations for July 23 as well as Aug. 6 and 27. To schedule a visit, be in touch with John at jvertigan@uccfla.org.

Prayers for churches and ministers

We invite you to join us in praying for the churches of your Conference. Each issue of e-Celebrate will contain the names of the churches we hope you will pray for personally and as a congregation. Meditate on them, pray for them, and sense your oneness together as the Body of Christ that is the United Church of Christ in Florida. This issue's churches:

  • Longwood Hills Congregational Church
    Rev. James T. Mory, pastor
  • United Church of Marco Island
    Rev. Dr. Mark Williams, pastor
    Rev. Linda Johnson, associate pastor
  • CrossRoads, Melbourne
    Rev. Frank Lamson, supply minister

We also remember those in specialized ministry settings outside the local church whose presence provides spiritual care and support to many who are in need:

  • Rev. Martin Montonye, VISN CPE Program/Chaplain Service, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, Tampa

General Synod 2017

Trans focus at National ONA Gathering

While the murder rate of our transgender neighbors (especially women of color) continues unabated, and a new administration in Washington continues to roll back protections for transgender Americans, the National ONA Gathering June 27-29 in Baltimore will feature a transgender plenary, workshop, and an open invitation to the trans community in the United Church of Christ to plan for the future. -> More information and Registration ->

Save the date

June 18, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Roles and Relationships "basic" professional ethics training, Zoom videoconference. -> Register! ->

July 20, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Social Media Ethics professional ethics training, Zoom videoconference. -> Register! ->

Aug. 9, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: "Dementia Response for Pastoral Caregivers," led by Rev. Linn Possell, Legacy Conference Room, Florida Church House, 9300 University Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817 -> Register! ->

Oct. 12, noon to 4 p.m.: Roles and Relationships "basic" professional ethics training, Seabreeze United Church of Christ, 501 N. Wild Olive Ave., Daytona Beach, FL 32118. -> Register! ->

Oct. 12-14: 2017 Florida Conference Fall Gathering, Hilton Daytona Beach Resort Oceanwalk Village

Oct. 20: UCC WISE Conference on Mental Health, Venice United Church of Christ, 620 Shamrock Blvd., Venice, FL 34293

Oct. 20-22: 2017 Southern Region Women's Retreat, Mo Ranch, Hunt, TX -> Register | Download flyer ->

e-Celebrate archive

UCC in Florida website

UCC national site

Donate now

United Church of Christ in Florida
9300 University Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32817

  Like us on Facebook! (407) 835-7501
(800) 432-8311