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Conference Call

Rev. John VertiganGreetings to you, and peace, Florida Conference.

We've all been impacted by Irma. Some have felt the wrath of that storm more intensely than others, but not a one of us escaped the effects of that massive storm. Through it, and after it, I have remembered the words of Jesus when he promised his disciples, "I will not leave you desolate." It's a promise from which we can take heart as we move into the recovery phase of this event. I recall an announcer on news radio remarking that "the hurricane was the scary part; now we get into the tough part."

The church house at 9300 did not sustain any major damage but remains without power as of this writing. We have no access to lights, phones, internet or e-mail systems, and the best way for you to let us know of needs is to phone your regional minister or me directly if you have those numbers. In any event, we are trying mightily to survey the damage to our church communities across the state so we can advocate for a powerful rebuilding response as time passes.

The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors has approved a $1,000 immediate gift to our partners in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to assist them in their response to those in need there.

I have already received outreach from the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ who have offered help to clergy who might find themselves in financial crisis because of this storm. Perhaps you missed a paycheck or encountered an unmet need due to the hurricane. Please reach out to me; we have ways of helping in such times. Additionally, I've received outreach from the office of disaster ministries in the national setting of the United Church of Christ. I can speak boldly for them and for us in the conference leadership when I say we are committed to a long-term response to this disaster and will do everything in our power to assist our churches and communities in their recovery efforts.

Jesus said, "I will not leave you desolate." Today I ask you to live with the mind of Christ and see to it that not one person in your sphere of influence feels they have been left alone in this crisis. To that request I add the promise of the wider United Church of Christ that we are with you in this time as together we make way for a new day and a new dawn to the glory of the One who calls us.

Now more than ever, be at peace and be in touch, won't you.

Rev. John Vertigan
The Rev. John Vertigan
Conference Minister

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Disaster Ministries launches Hurricane Irma appeal, immersed in Harvey recovery

Register now for UCC WISE Conference for Mental Health in Venice

Registration is now open for the UCC WISE Conference for Mental Health Oct. 20 at Venice United Church of Christ.

Sponsored by the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network, the event will feature an introduction to the WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged) Covenant for congregations for mental health, stories from persons who have been affected by mental health issues, practical steps for engaging in mental health ministries for congregations, and more.

The keynote speaker for the event is Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund, vice chair of the UCC Mental Health Network and author of the highly-acclaimed book Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family and Church.

For all the details, check out the event brochure. -> Register today! ->

2017 Annual Gathering Logo

Register for the 2017 Annual Gathering soon if you need a room

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.

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, and the registration deadline has been extended by one week due to Hurricane Irma. But you must register by no later than Sept. 27 to take advantage of the discounted rates.

This year's theme is "Make Glad the Deeper Waters," and our keynote speaker is Molly Phinney Baskette, 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.

Regular registration is $99 per person and includes lunch and dinner on Friday. Oct. 13. For members of nearby churches who are only able to attend part of the Gathering, discounted registration options are available.

Even if you can't join us for the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference, we hope to see you at what's bound to be a fantastic kick-off event for our annual meeting. 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.

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.

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! ->

With Music and Justice for All

Calling all leaders … The United Church of Christ in Florida needs YOU!

The Florida Conference United Church of Christ is seeking individuals with skills and a generous heart to fill several open leadership positions on our Board of Directors and its committees.

Open positions include:

  • Male layperson from a church with under 250 members for Board of Directors
  • Male layperson from the Southeast Region for Committee on Church & Ministry
  • Male layperson from the Northeast Region for Committee on Church & Ministry
  • Two Budget & Finance Committee members
  • One Personnel Committee member

If you are interested in filling or nominating someone to fill one of those positions, please download and complete one of the forms below. Completed forms may be emailed to Dave Cyril at dcyril@uccfla.org or faxed to (407) 835-7502.

Nomination form as a Microsoft Word document

Nomination form as a PDF document

You asked; we delivered new resources for anti-racism education

After right-wing demonstrators, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis, clashed with counterprotesters and violence erupted in Charlottesville, VA, on Aug. 12, 2017, the United Church of Christ in Florida sponsored a conference-wide conference call Aug. 16 entitled "A Just World for All: Responding to Charlottesville."

During that call, some clergy members requested resources for congregations to use in confronting racism, and today we've launched a new Racial Justice Ministries section on our website with an initial version of a resources list for anti-racism education in your church. You can find it here, and we hope you find it useful.

If your congregation has used resources that have helped in confronting racism, please share them by emailing flaconf@uccfla.org. We'll be adding to and updating our list and the new Racial Justice Ministries section over time.

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. Application deadline is Sept. 30. -> Learn more and apply 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.

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.

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:

  • Marion Oaks Community Congregational
    Rev. Dr. David Wild, pastor
  • First Congregational Church, Orange City
    Rev. David Westcott, pastor
  • First United Church of Christ, Orlando
    Rev. Bob Roberts, interim 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. Ann Wynne-Phillips, chaplain, Tidewell Hospice of Sarasota, Charlotte & DeSoto

Save the date

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: UCC WISE Conference for 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

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