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Conference Call

Board authorizes staff restructure

Rev. John VertiganAt their February meeting, the Florida Conference Board of Directors authorized the restructuring of current staff roles as follows:

The two part-time positions for youth ministry in the Florida Conference will be eliminated effective June 30, 2018. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Sheila Guillaume and Jeanne Haemmelmann for their leadership these last years and, indeed, I hope you will want to reach out to them as they experience this transition in their own ministerial life. I've no doubt that even as these particular positions come to a close, the Spirit is moving in their lives with discernment for what will come next in their service to the in-breaking realm of God. Please join me in thanking them for their ministry among us.

The Board has authorized the hiring of a full-time Minister for Faith Formation in the Florida Conference. The Minister of Faith Formation will implement the Conference mission and strategic priorities, particularly as these affect intergenerational faith formation. Within this framework, the position is responsible for:

  • Planning, guiding and supporting the implementation of a comprehensive Conference-wide faith formation ministry program and relating it appropriately to the local, regional and national settings of the United Church of Christ;
  • Shaping the youth ministries of the Conference to ensure they serve as a significant vehicle for faith formation ministries and align with Conference values and priorities.

More specifically, the Minister for Faith Formation will be available for local church events geared toward disciple-making and deeper connection with our spiritual roots. Too, the Minister for Faith Formation will provide oversight and leadership for at least three youth events per year, participation in regional and national youth events, and retreats for adults from around the Conference on a variety of models and themes.

I expect a staffing announcement in the near future, and a start date for this position is pending.

This position and the ministries that come forth from it are made possible by your gifts to Our Church's Wider Mission and by timely payment of per capita dues. Please continue to pray for and support the ministries of the Florida Conference as we seek to engage, equip, and empower ministers and congregations in providing a progressive Christian witness in Florida and beyond.

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

Rev. John Vertigan
The Rev. John Vertigan
Conference Minister

Last chance get your Yearbook reports submitted

It's not too late to get your Yearbook reports for 2017 submitted, but time is running out. The Data Hub will close to all churches on March 7.

We know. Pulling all your membership and attendance numbers together, plus financial reports and everything else required to submit your Yearbook reports is not fun, and, in fact, can be quite time-consuming and difficult. But it really is important, and it will help your church in many ways. For one thing, the 11-year reports come from the data submitted in Yearbook reports, and that information can be real handy for so many things, like reviewing budgets, calling a new pastor, or planning for future missions, to name just a few. And there are many more benefits … .

If you are at one of the Florida churches that has already submitted your Yearbook reports, thank you so much! We truly do appreciate you and the effort.

And if your church has not yet submitted your Yearbook reports, or if you are at one of those handful of Florida churches that has not submitted Yearbook reports for two years, five years or longer, won't you please, please, please call us and let us help you. It's not too late … yet.

We'd be more than happy to hold your hand and walk you through the process. Just call the Conference office at (407) 835-7501 as soon as you can. And if you just aren't comfortable entering the data in the Data Hub yourself, or you don't have the staff, resources or time to do it, we'll even do it for you. Just print the old paper forms (links below) to fill out and return to us, and we'll take it from there.

If you find the old paper forms useful for gathering up all your information before entering it into the Data Hub, you may download blank forms below:

-> Local Church Report Form ->

-> Ministerial Support Form ->

To log in to the UCC Data Hub, go to http://datahub.ucc.org/. For your "User Name", use the Florida Conference number (12) followed by your church number, including leading zeroes, for a total of six digits. You can find the six-digit number you should use for your church in the Conference Directory. (By the way, please let Dave know at dcyril@uccfla.org if any of the information in your church listing in the directory needs to be updated.)

For detailed step-by-step instructions on logging in and entering your reports in the Data Hub, see the Jan. 3 issue of e-Celebrate here.

Support farmworkers and boycott; join the Time's Up Wendy's March

Time's Up Wendy's MarchDozens of farmworkers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and consumer allies from across the country will begin a five-day Freedom Fast on the morning of Sunday, March 11, to demand an end to sexual violence in the fields. They will be stationed around the clock outside Trian Partners, the hedge fund offices of Wendy's Board Chair Nelson Peltz, at 280 Park Ave. in Manhattan.

You can support these efforts by joining the Freedom Fast or by jumping on a bus and traveling to New York for the Time's Up Wendy's March on March 15 or by making a financial contribution. To learn more about the reasons for the Freedom Fast -> click here ->.

You can find details on the Freedom Fast and the schedule of events -> here -> or -> click here to sign up to join the fast ->. You can find -> resources for faster here -> .

For details on the national bus caravans to New York for the Time's Up Wendy's March -> click here ->.

The Florida caravan will leave from Barry University, 11300 N.E. Second Ave., Miami Shores, FL 33161 at 10 a.m. on March 14.

The next stops are the FGCU Bookstore at 11090 FGCU Blvd. N., Fort Myers, FL 33965, leaving at 8:30 a.m.; New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243, leaving at 10 a.m.; and First United Church of Tampa, 7308 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33617, leaving at 11:30 a.m.

The caravan will stop for lunch in Tampa before proceeding to its last pick-up stop at Target, 3970 S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville, FL 32608, leaving at 2:45 p.m. The bus will arrive in New York by 10 a.m. Thursday, March 15, and housing has been arranged.

Spaces are limited. So if you plan to hop on the Florida bus, -> please sign up here ->.

The Florida bus will be leaving New York at 8 a.m. on Friday, March 16. The bus should make its final stop in Miami around noon on Saturday, March 17.

If you wish to make your own way to New York and just join the Time's Up March and culmination of the event on March 15 -> sign up here ->.

To donate online -> click here ->.

For more information, contact Wesley Snedeker, wesleysnedeker@gmail.com; Uriel Zelaya-Perez, uriel@allianceforfairfood.org; or Ximena Pedroza, ximena@sfalliance.org.

UCC at March for Our Lives

On March 24, the students and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.

Details are still forthcoming about the march location, but if you are planning to attend and want to connect with other members of the United Church of Christ, you can -> find some details and RSVP here ->.

Registration for 2018 Florida UCC Women Annual Conference now open

All women are invited to attend the 91st Florida UCC Women's Conference May 4-6 at Chateau Elan Hotel and Conference Center in Sebring. Join women from throughout the state to explore this year's theme, "Planting Seeds".

Early bird registrations are due by April 1.

-> Register online today! ->


-> Download the paper registration form -> and mail it in with a check.

Young Adult Service Community program

Young Adult Service Community starting at Coral Gables Congregational

This fall, Coral Gables Congregational Church, UCC, in collaboration with the national setting of the UCC, will launch an exciting new opportunity for young adult service and community building.

The Young Adult Service Community – Miami is a year-long program that will match young adults ages 21-35 with paid service and justice internships in the city, as well as ministry in the local congregation. Participants will live in conscientious community together in an ecumenical house with interns from other service programs. The program also features an emphasis on vocational discernment, spiritual growth and experiencing life in a diverse city.

The program has two openings for the fall of 2018. If you or someone you know is interested in applying, please visit the YASC website (http://www.ucc.org/volunteer_yasc) for more information, or click here start your application today!

Free workshop to focus on church future that embraces creativity

Come join us May 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for "Sacred Habits," a free workshop with Rev. Chad Abbott at the Florida Church House, 9300 University Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817.

Rev. Abbott is conference minister for the United Church of Christ in Indiana and Kentucky. Having served congregations in both the United Methodist and United Church of Christ traditions, he is a pastor at heart. He has written a couple of books, his latest Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy. He is passionate about local churches, pastors and spirituality. He is a trained labyrinth facilitator, spiritual director and storyteller.

Chad will speak on topics raised in his latest book. At a time when the church in the United States is struggling to make sense of its place in the public square, a space of inquiry is needed that intersects the work of religion scholars and local church pastors. What will the future of the church look like, and is there hope for transformation? Abbott's book and the workshop focus on an emerging future for the church, one that embraces creativity and experimentation in the pastorate in the midst of a context of rapid decline.

This workshop, which includes lunch, is being underwritten by the Wilson Fund, a fund of the Florida Conference. However, registration is required by April 18.

This workshop satisfies one unit of the Professional Ethics training requirements for authorized ministers in the Florida Conference. -> 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. Leigh McCaffrey — On Sunday, Feb. 18, a Service of Installation was held for Rev. Leigh McCaffrey at First Congregational UCC of Lake Helen.
  • Service of Release for Rev. Nancy Dahlberg — On Sunday, March 11, at 10 a.m., a Service of Release will be held for Rev. Nancy Dahlberg at United Church in Tallahassee, 1834 Mahan Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32308. Rev. Dahlberg has served the church since 2010.
  • Service of Installation for Rev. Dr. Bruce Irwin — On Sunday, April 22, at 3 p.m., a Service of Installation will be held for Rev. Dr. Bruce Irwin at First Congregational Church UCC, 2401 S.E. Sidonia St., Port St. Lucie, FL 34952. Ministers and 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:

  • The Venice United Church of Christ
    Rev. Donald Wilson, pastor
    Rev. Dr. Keran Olm-Stoelting, associate pastor
  • The Community Church, Vero Beach
    Rev. Dr. Robert Baggott, pastor
    Rev. Dr. Casey Baggott, executive pastor
    Rev. David Johnson, associate pastor
    Rev. Joel Reif, associate pastor
    Mr. Neal Watkins, licensed minister
  • United Church of Christ at The Villages
    Rev. Drew Willard, 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. Yosladis Izquiendo-Yglesias, chaplain, VITAS Innovative Healthcare, North Miami Beach

Save the date

April 3-4: 2018 Florida Conference Clergy Retreat, "The Theology of Play," The Retreat at Silver Springs, Silver Springs, FL. -> Register ->

May 2: "Sacred Habits" workshop with Chad Abbott, Florida Church House, Orlando -> Register ->

May 4-6: 2018 Florida UCC Women Annual Conference, "Planting Seeds," Chateau Elan Hotel and Conference Center, Sebring, FL. -> Register online -> | -> Download mail-in registration form ->

Oct. 11-13: 2018 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference, Naples United Church of Christ

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