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Conference Call

Rev. John VertiganToday, I extend deep gratitude to the authorized ministers in the Florida Conference who took part in the July 2017 Rolling Fast For Justice in support of the Alliance for Fair Food and in solidarity with our neighbors in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. I have been moved by the sense of partnership within the conference and extended to the wider community by this successful call to action.

There was worship of God to bring the fast to an end. There is work that continues until the ongoing injustice is put away for all time and all God's people can live, play and work together with dignity for one and all.

The Coalition offers this report of the fast and the moving words of those being supported. I commend the video and the printed material to your use:


Be at peace and be in touch, won't you.

Rev. John Vertigan
The Rev. John Vertigan
Conference Minister

Last chance to sign up for free workshop on responding to dementia

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. -> Register today!. ->

Clergy development day to delve into Enneagram and personality types

EnneagramThe Florida Conference United Church of Christ is sponsoring a one-day workshop to introduce clergy to the wisdom of the Enneagram on Wednesday, Aug. 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Led by Rev. Deborah Kaiser-Cross, minister for congregational care at Naples United Church of Christ, the free workshop will take place at the Florida Church House, 9300 University Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817. Lunch will be provided.

What is the Enneagram? It is a description of spiritual psychology that can move us to a deeper understanding of others and ourselves. The wisdom of the Enneagram is revealed in its extraordinary clarifying descriptions of the nine different personality types. It helps us to better see the motivations behind our behaviors, uncovering our strengths and our areas of growth.

Understanding the differences between others and ourselves can lead us to relate more deliberately with both others and in an authentic relationship with God. You will experience insight, encouragement and empowerment in this one-day workshop as you take this information and apply it to your life and your relationships. -> Register now! ->

Scholarships still available for 3-day jazz festival in St. Louis

The Florida Conference, through The Charles D. Wilson Fund, is offering 10 full registration scholarships of $250 each for active clergy to attend the Jazz for the Journey Festival of Jazz Worship. This is a three-day national gathering celebrating the spirit of jazz in Christian worship and ministry. It will be held in St. Louis, a great city for jazz and spirit, Sept. 28-30.

Produced by Rev. Geoffrey Black and Rev. Cliff Aerie, the event will provide hands-on learning experiences to complement inspiring jazz performances in the context of worship. Rev. Black will offer the keynote address, and three great bands, renowned preachers (including Laurie Hafner from Coral Gables Congregational UCC), workshop leaders and storytellers will inspire participants. You pay your own travel and room and board expenses. Apply for the grant here and select "The Charles D. Wilson Scholarship Fund".

Call for nominations for Peter Cheney Award

Nominations are welcome for the Peter Cheney Award, presented in recognition of extraordinary and exemplary commitment to God through outstanding service as a layperson in the United Church of Christ.

Those nominated should be an individuals who manifest a unique integration of spiritual, personal and professional life.

The nomination form may be found here, and nominations should be sent to jvertigan@uccfla.org by no later than Sept. 1.

Revised Marks available for download in English and Spanish

The Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers is a tool for discernment and assessment, created especially for use by members in discernment, committees on ministry, and authorized ministers. The Marks were developed to emphasize excellence in ministerial formation. -> Download them here! ->

Las Señales de los Fieles Cristianos y Ministros Autorizados es una herramienta para discernimiento y evaluación, especialmente creada para el uso de los miembros en discernimiento, comités de ministerio y ministros autorizados. Las señales fueron desarrolladas para enfatizar la excelencia en la formación ministerial. -> Descárgala aquí! ->

UCC advocates celebrate failure of 'skinny repeal' health care legislation

Repeal effort failsJoyous prayers of thanks are being offered by United Church of Christ clergy and health care advocates across the country as the U.S. Senate, in the early hours of Friday morning, was unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, coming back from surgery for a brain tumor, cast the deciding vote July 28. He and fellow Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine, joined 48 Democrats to oppose the "skinny repeal" legislation, a major blow to President Donald Trump and the Republican congressional agenda.

"I am celebrating the defeat of the skinny repeal today," said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, executive minister, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries. "I know this is not the end. I know the struggles will continue. … -> Read more ->

Mental health ministry team has made good progress

The mental health ministry team assembled and led by Rev. Judy Johnson about 10 months ago here has made great strides in the Florida Conference and beyond in a short period.

Since securing a start-up grant from the conference, the group has facilitated three Mental Health First Aid professional ethics (boundary training) workshops; three Florida churches have become WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged) Congregations for Mental Health; and the group was recognized at the 2017 General Synod Health Luncheon in Baltimore, MD, recently.

The group also plans to propose a mental health resolution at the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference in Daytona Beach Oct. 12-14, and they will have an exhibit and facilitate a workshop on mental health there, as well. They also have scheduled a full-day workshop for churches on becoming WISE Congregations for Mental Health at Venice United Church of Christ on Oct. 20.

If you are interested in developing a mental health ministry in your church or working with Judy's mental health ministry team, you can reach her at (573) 803-7892 or judy2012johnson@gmail.com. The group meets via video/telephone conference once a month. Please be in touch with Judy for additional details.


St. Andrew seeks Director of Music Ministry

St. Andrew United Church of Christ, a theologically progressive, Open and Affirming church in Sarasota, seeks a Director of Music Ministry for its vibrant music program. Responsibilities include worship planning with the pastor, directing the chancel choir, providing musical accompaniment for the choir and congregation, developing skills in church musicians, and recruiting and nurturing new music groups and individual performers.

We are seeking an energetic, organized, collaborative musician with strong directing and piano performance skills (organ playing a plus), knowledge and passion for diverse styles of music and competency in worship planning/church liturgy. This part-time position averages 16 hours a week and will begin on Oct. 1.

Please send inquiries and resumes to Rev. Paul Werner at revpaul@sarasotaucc.org. Job description and additional information are available on the church website at http://uccstandrew.org/.

Faith Family seeks pianist

We at Faith Family UCC in Brandon are in need of your help. Our pianist has left us for a full time position, and we are looking for someone who can play our electronic piano on Sunday mornings. Rehearsals are 8:30-10 a.m., with service following at 10:30. Additional services are Good Friday and Christmas Eve. We also have a special Advent service in early December on a Saturday night.

We have a congregation that likes to sing and a guitarist who is here most of the year. Our service is blended but tends toward contemporary Christian hymns while using some music from our UCC hymnal and other sources of more traditional music.

If you know of anyone who might be interested in this position, we'd be so grateful if you could ask them to email krooke@verizon.net.

Interested in sharing a room at the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference?

If you're on a tight budget and would like to share a room at the Hilton Daytona Beach Resort / Ocean Walk Village during the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference, we're here to help. Just contact Dave Cyril at dcyril@uccfla.org or call him at our office at (407) 835-7501 Monday through Wednesday.

We can't promise that we'll find you a roommate, but as long as you don't wait until the last minute, it's highly likely that we can.

Submissions welcome

Try out our Connections section in the bi-weekly e-Celebrate. Connections gives you the chance (yes, you need to take the initiative) to write a sentence or two about the kind of issue you want to address and reach out to persons of a like mind who will then have the opportunity to network with you for better ministry. This is hardly hi-tech and hardly complicated. Think of it as personal ads for mission advancement.

Send your Connections to Dave Cyril at dcyril@uccfla.org and we'll include them in an upcoming issue. After that, it's up to you to create your network and bring it to life. If you do, you're free to contact regional staff, and we'll do our best to resource you for active ministry where you live.

2017 Annual Gathering Logo

Register now for the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference

Now is the time to gather the church, to come together for fellowship, learning and fun, and to celebrate and recommit to our shared covenant as we converge on Daytona Beach Oct. 12-14 for the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference United Church of Christ.

The United Church of Christ in Florida is a progressive Christian movement that represents the great diversity that is the United Church of Christ. No two congregations are exactly alike, each a reflection of their individual culture, theology, setting and heritage. Yet, while we are very different from one another, we are connected and share in common a love of our neighbors, a concern for stewarding the gift of creation, and a desire to create a just world for all.

This year's theme is "Make Glad the Deeper Waters," and our scripture will be Genesis 1: 1-3.

BasketteOur keynote speaker, Molly Phinney Baskette, is, in no particular order, a mother, spouse, recovering workaholic, cancer survivor, adventurous home cook. Oh, and she recently traded blizzards for earthquakes in moving from Boston, Massachusetts, to California to become First Church Berkeley's newly minted senior minister. She also serves as a senior consultant for the Center for Progressive Renewal, with an affinity for church renewal, social media and spiritual formation for the new millennium. She is best known for her books Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too and Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession.

Registration is $99 per person and includes lunch and dinner on Friday. Oct. 13, at the Hilton Daytona Beach Resort / Ocean Walk Village, plus a reception with heavy appetizers, drinks and entertainment Thursday evening, Oct. 12, at Seabreeze United Church of Christ. The 2017 Annual Gathering will conclude at noon Saturday, Oct. 14, after a closing worship service at Seabreeze UCC.

Discounted accommodations at the Hilton Daytona Beach Resort / Ocean Walk Village are available only through the registration form. Rooms are $137 per night and include in-room Internet access and self-parking for $8 daily.

The registration deadline for the event is Oct. 10. However, those who will need accommodations at the Hilton Daytona Beach Resort / Ocean Walk Village must register by no later than Sept. 20 to take advantage of the discounted rates we've negotiated for the event.

For complete details on the reception, event venues, workshops, speakers and the event schedule, stay tuned for the 2017 Annual Gathering Brochure (coming soon). You can find a basic, interim version of the brochure here for now.

We hope you will join us, as lay people, musicians and clergy gather to worship, deliberate, learn, serve and Make Glad together. -> Register today! ->

Call for resolutions for 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference

The Board of Directors of the Florida Conference is calling for resolutions for the 2017 Annual Gathering Oct. 12-14 in Daytona Beach.

The Board welcomes resolutions from churches, ministry teams, groups and committees in our Conference community. Resolutions should reflect your issues of concern regarding the kinds of initiatives and commitments that you would like the Florida Conference to embrace. Please download the letter and refer to the guidelines below for additional details.

Resolutions letter as a pdf

Guidelines for resolutions pdf

Display tables available at 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference

If you represent a group or organization affiliated with the United Church of Christ and would be interested in having a display table during the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference in Daytona Beach, we still have a few tables available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact Dave Cyril at dcyril@uccfla.org or call our office at (407) 835-7501 Monday through Wednesday.

UCC 2017 Southern Region Women's Retreat is half full; register today!

There's still time to register for the UCC 2017 Southern Region Women's Retreat at Mo Ranch Retreat Center in Hunt, TX, Oct. 20-22. But don't wait too long. Registration will close when 100 people have registered, and 50 have registered so far.

"Joyful Expectations, Peaceful Inspiration!" is the theme for this year's retreat. Early bird registration by Sept. 1 costs $200 for double occupancy. After Sept. 1, the cost is $210. Single occupancy, as available, is $325, and if you don't need lodgings, registration costs $85. The final registration deadline is Sept. 15, and there is a $25 fee for any cancellations.

Limited scholarship funds are available. For information, contact Yvette Scales at yscales@rice.edu.

For general retreat questions, contact Charlotte Albert at charlotte@spcucc.org. -> Register today! ->

UCC leaders, ONA Coalition stand with trans Americans

We support Transgender folksNational leaders of the United Church of Christ and the UCC Open and Affirming Coalition are standing with transgender members, friends, neighbors and family across the country, after President Donald Trump announced a total ban on service by transgender Americans in the United States Armed Forces. His Twitter announcement indicated transgender people are barred from serving in the U.S. military "in any capacity."

Neither Trump nor the White House clarified what would happen to the thousands of transgender service members already in the military. The announcement came less than 24 hours after the Texas Senate voted to restrict transgender people from using public restrooms that conform with their gender identity.

Acting on a 2003 General Synod resolution that affirms the participation of transgender persons in church and ministry, UCC officers and the ONA Coalition are urging the wider settings of the denomination to "stand publicly with our transgender members and neighbors in this urgent time, and whenever and wherever their dignity as human beings and their basic rights as citizens are threatened," they said in a statement. The Rev. John Dorhauer, general minister and president of the UCC, and the Rev. Mak Kneebone, president of the ONA Coalition, wrote the letter. -> Read more ->

Transitions and upcoming ordinations/installations/ecclesiastical councils

The Constitution of the United Church of Christ affirms that we believe that "God calls the whole church and every member to participate in and extend the ministry of Jesus Christ" and that "God calls certain of its members to various forms of ministry in and on behalf of the Church for which ecclesiastical authorization is required by the Church." Persons seeking authorization as ordained, commissioned or licensed ministers must meet certain requirements, including being approved by authorized clergy who hold standing in the UCC and lay members of UCC congregations gathered as an ecclesiastical council. This body gathers for the purpose of hearing an individual's faith pilgrimage, theology and understanding of UCC history and polity as they seek to discern whether or not this person has the gifts and calling as an authorized minister in the United Church of Christ. Please take advantage of an opportunity to participate in this important part of our covenantal relationship as members of the United Church of Christ.

  • Service of Installation for Rev. Paul Werner — On Sunday, Oct. 22, at 3 p.m., you are invited to join in the Service of Installation for Rev. Paul Werner at St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 6908 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL 34238. Ministers are invited to attend in robes and red stoles, and all members of Florida Conference congregations are cordially invited to be present.
  • Service of Installation for Rev. Talia Raymond — On Sunday, Oct. 29, at 11:15 a.m., you are invited to join in the Service of Installation for Rev. Talia Raymond at United Church of Gainesville, 1624 N.W. Fifth Ave., Gainesville, FL 32603. Ministers are invited to attend in robes and red stoles, and all members of Florida Conference congregations are cordially invited to be present.

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:

  • Miami Lakes Congregational
    Rev. Keith Scott, pastor
  • Mayflower Congregational, Naples
    Rev. Alan Coe, pastor
  • Naples United Church of Christ
    Rev. Dr. Dawson Taylor, pastor<
    Rev. David Kaiser-Cross, executive pastor
    Rev. Deborah Kaiser-Cross, associate pastor
    Rev. Beverly Duncan, associate pastor

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. Mairolet Vega, Chaplain, VITAS Hospice Care and Miami Children's Hospital

Save the date

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! ->

Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Clergy development day on the Enneagram, led by Rev. Deborah Kaiser-Cross, 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 -> Register | Download flyer ->

Oct. 20: WISE Mental Health Conference, 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 ->

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UCC in Florida website

UCC national site

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