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Letter condemns racist violence in Charlottesville, demands equality for all

Rev. John VertiganThe national leadership of the United Church of Christ has issued a pastoral letter in response to the violent clashes between white supremacists and counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, VA, that left a woman dead and 19 injured.

The link also includes resources for worship and prayer that I hope your local settings will find useful.

At last one person has said to me, "Here in Florida, we've tried in the past to have a sacred conversation on race. Now it seems vital that we do so." I agree.

Today (Aug. 15), I am traveling for a meeting of the United Church of Christ Insurance Board. When I return to the office next week, I'll be seeking partners from across the conference who can help in jumpstarting this critical effort.

In the meantime, do let me know of your own responses, and let's share them far and wide so that all might know that the United Church of Christ stands for a justice, peace and inclusion for all people.

Here is the link to the pastoral letter from our national leadership.

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

Rev. John Vertigan
The Rev. John Vertigan
Conference Minister

Related articles:

At solidarity vigils for Charlottesville, UCC clergy lead the way
Sharing love of neighbor in Charlottesville
UCC shows up in Charlottesville
Cornel West & Rev. Traci Blackmon: Clergy in Charlottesville were trapped by torch-wielding Nazis

Last 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.

Still time to sign up for free Clergy development day

EnneagramWith less than two weeks until the Florida Conference United Church of Christ-sponsored workshop to introduce clergy to the wisdom of the Enneagram, this is your last chance to register. Registration will close shortly, and the workshop will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Florida Church House, 9300 University Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817.

It will be led by Rev. Deborah Kaiser-Cross, minister for congregational care at Naples United Church of Christ, and 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 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 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

With Music and Justice for All

Get ready for something special at the 2017 Annual Gathering reception

Southern author Frye Gaillard and award-winning Nashville recording artist Anne E. DeChant will be our special guests at the reception for the 2017 Annual Gathering Thursday, Oct. 12, at Seabreeze United Church of Christ in Daytona Beach.

The evening will start at 6:30 p.m. with an assortment of heavy appetizers and drinks, after which Gaillard and DeChant will team up for a unique program of stories and song entitled "With Music and Justice for All". Gaillard will present brief readings from his works, setting the context for an acoustic performance of original songs by DeChant.

These two writers have performed together — and with other recording artists — at such diverse venues as the Southern Festival of Books, Belmont University and the Bluebird Café in Nashville, Kimbro's Pickin' Parlor in Franklin, TN, the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Auburn University, Moonlight on the Mountain in Birmingham, the Evening Muse in Charlotte, the Barking Spider in Cleveland, the W.C. Handy Music Festival, numerous public libraries, and the Hank Williams Boyhood Home and Museum.

For more information on "With Music and Justice for All" and a small sample of the performance, please click here.

Whether you'll be joining us for the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference or not, we hope to see you at what's bound to be fantastic kick-off event for our annual meeting. There is no cost to attend the concert, but we will take a free will offering following the performance.

So that we can plan appropriately, if you wish to attend the reception but you aren't planning to register for and attend the rest of the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference, we ask that you let us know that you'll be coming to the reception here.

We'd also like to share that we've added new, lower-cost registration options for the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference Oct. 12-14 in Daytona Beach to accommodate members of nearby churches who might not be able to attend the entire annual meeting but would like to attend at least part of it. In addition to full registration for $99, there is now a no-meals registration option for $49, or you can choose to attend with just the lunch or dinner on Friday, Oct. 13, at the Hilton Daytona Beach Resort / Ocean Walk Village.

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.

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! ->


Church of the Palms seeks Sunday School teacher

Church of the Palms United Church of Christ, Delray Beach, is seeking a lead Sunday School teacher for our multi-age children's education program.

We are a welcoming, LGBTQ-affirming, progressive, arts-and-mission-oriented church. If you are a person of faith (any Christian denomination), loving, creative, progressive in your understanding of God and your orientation toward the Bible, responsible, enthusiastic, and at least 18 years old, this position is for you.

We would prefer teachers who are available throughout the year and who are interested in longer-term commitments. Hours are 9:45-11:15 a.m. Sundays, and pay is $50 per week. Start date is flexible, but available now. To apply, email resume and references to pastor@churchofthepalms.net.

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.

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 on Aug. 7. 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.

Center for Progressive Renewal polity course starts soon

The Center for Progressive Renewal is offering a fall semester online UCC History, Polity and Theology class beginning on Sept. 6 and ending Dec. 6.

The class has met the polity requirements of most Committees on Church and Ministry in the UCC. It can be taken either for academic credit or simply to fulfill the polity requirement of Committees on Church and Ministry. It has been accepted for credit in eight seminaries, including Union (NYC), Vanderbilt, Candler, Columbia, Eden, and Lancaster. It is included in the catalogs of both Union Theological Seminary and Lancaster Theological Seminary.

It is a rigorous, engaging class that is offered asynchronistically so it is convenient for those who are bi-vocational, have full schedules, or odd sleep habits! It is designed to meet the needs of students with different learning styles and varying levels of formal education.

The facilitators for the class are fully engaged and available to the students throughout the class. Tim Downs and his team have been teaching this course online for the last six years, and it has evolved and adapted to the changes in the UCC and the changing needs of those seeking authorization for ministry.

Certificates of completion are issued for all students who successfully complete the requirements for the class. Letters with a grade and summary assessment of the student's performance in the class for Committees on Church and Ministry are available upon request. However, students taking the class for credit need to make special arrangements with Tim and their seminaries. Any questions can be directed to Tim Downs, the lead facilitator, at timothy.c.downs@gmail.com. The cost of the class is $629, and the deadline for registration is Aug, 30. -> Register today! ->

Apply for a grant to help your church fight for a just world for all

Apply for a Neighbors in Need grant to help fund your congregation's work around equal rights, environmental justice and economic justice in your community. -> Learn more and apply today! ->

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! ->

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.
  • Service of Installation for Rev. Michelle Dyar — On Sunday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m., you are invited to join in the Service of Installation for Rev. Michelle Dyar at Jensen Beach Community Church UCC, 3900 N.E. Skyline Drive, Jensen Beach, FL 34957. 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:

  • Lighthouse Congregational UCC, Naples
    Rev. Robert Townsend, pastor
  • Community Congregational Chruch, New Port Richey
    Rev. Victoria Snow, pastor
  • The United Church of Christ, New Smyrna Beach
    Rev. Dr. Diane Langworthy, 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. John Vertigan, Conference Minister, Florida Conference United Church of Christ

Save the date

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 | RSVP for reception only ->

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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