Having trouble viewing this email? Click here July 6, 2018

Conference Call

Dave CyrilI don't know which I despise more, the constant scam calls and robocalls that seem to come more frequently every day, or the equally annoying phishing emails and spam that appear to be increasing at a similar rate.

Phishing emails attempt to trick you into disclosing your personal information for fraudulent purposes, or they appeal for money, donations or cash equivalents like gift cards directly. Unfortunately, several of these phishing emails have been sent to members of The United Church of Christ in Florida over the last few weeks, and some have even used our logos and branding.

Both the scam calls and the phishing emails are so despicable, it's hard to say one is worse than the other. But at least you can do something about the spam and malicious emails. The main thing is to report them, as soon as possible, both to your email provider (more details on that in a bit) and to the person or organization from whom the scam email appears to have come. It's very easy for these scam artists to disguise who the email is coming from and/or the email address from which it originates. This is called spoofing.

Now, reporting the scam emails probably won't make much if any difference in the quantity of garbage and scam emails you receive. Your email provider and/or employer and the quality of it's spam and phishing filters will likely have more of an impact there. Good filters will prevent you from even seeing by far the majority of spam and scam emails sent to your email address. But even the best filters will let some malicious email through.

Reporting malicious emails to your email provider will allow them to adjust their filters to catch and block these emails. Further, if you provide them with the right information, they will be able to track down where the emails are really coming from and file a complaint with the offending email provider, which may then disable the originating email address.

That won't stop the scammers and spammers. They'll just go get another free email address and start all over again. But at least they won't be able to see any future responses or financially benefit from them once the email account is disabled. Of course, some email providers are less responsive than others, and, unfortunately, a lot of people can fall victim to these scams before an email account is disabled, if it ever is.

That's why it is even more important, perhaps, to inform the other victim here, the person or organization from whom the scam email appears to come. That way they can inform their friends, members or patrons of this attempted fraud proactively and maybe, just maybe, you'll have saved someone else from falling prey to the email scam artists.

So, how can you tell if an email isn't really coming from the person or email address it appears to come from? Well, if you know how to read email headers, you can figure it out. But most people don't even know where to find an email's headers, much less how to decipher them. And even those who do know aren't going to look at the headers for every email they receive. You shouldn't have to for most emails.

What you do need to do, though, is approach every email with a little suspicion. If something seems a little off, it probably is. A lot of these scam emails come from outside of the United States, and English is likely a second language for most of the authors. So look for little errors in spelling, grammar and usage. That's usually the first clue for me. You may then notice other inconsistencies or red flags.

The cardinal rule here is trust your gut. If you get an email that seems a little off for whatever reason, do NOT respond. Instead, reach out to the person or organization the email appears to come from and ask if it's legitimate.

But don't stop there. Report it to your email provider, too! To do so, you need to know where the email is really coming from, and the only way to do that is to look at the "full headers" of the email. Actually, you don't even need to know how to decifer the headers to determine where the email is coming from. You just need to know how to get to the headers and send them to someone who knows how to read them, basically the security and abuse department of your email provider.

Following are instructions for getting and sending full email headers that should work on most Windows computers. If you need help, please feel free to call me at (407) 835-7501 during office hours Monday through Wednesday, and I'd be happy to walk you through it.

To get full headers, double click the email in question to open it in its own window. Then go to the "File" menu of that email at upper left and select "Properties". At the bottom of the window that opens, you'll see a field called "Internet headers" or something similar. Place your cursor in that field, hit Control and "A" at the same time to select all, then Control and "C" to copy.

Then close the window and forward the email to the abuse department for your ISP/email provider, usually abuse@ISPname.com (i.e., abuse@aol.com, abuse@gmail.com, etc.). Before you hit send, write a brief note at the top that says something like "this looks like a scam" and then hit Control and "P" at the same time to paste the headers into the email. You might want to CC the person or organization the email appears to come from. Then hit send.

It's unfortunate that we live in a world where we have to keep our guard up against scams in our emails, on our phones and even in the mail. But it's a fact of life these days, and being aware is the best way to avoid being a victim.

Dave Cyril
Office Manager / Communications Director



Immigration Reform Rallies

Voices at immigration rallies speak out against family separations

People across America, young and old, lifted up their voices at more than 700 marches and rallies on June 30, calling for change in the government immigration policies, and the immediate reunion of migrant families separated at the border. -> Read more! ->

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The Rev. Traci Blackmon brought greetings from the United Church of Christ to a crowd of 30,000 people gathered at Lafayette Square across from the White House, site of the main rally in Washington, D.C. The Executive Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries urged the crowd to stop history from repeating itself, by fighting for love. -> Read more! ->

* * *

The Rev. Rhina Ramos knows all too well the fear and the struggle facing migrants coming to the United States, hanging on to the hope of building a better life. She lived it. -> Read more! ->



Registration for 2018 Annual Gathering will open next week

Stay tuned for a special email invitation to register for the 2018 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference next week.

The keynote speaker at this year's Annual Gathering Oct. 11-13 in Naples will be Rev. David Vasquez-Levy, president of the Pacific School of Religion, and the theme is "Faith on the Move." Additional details and the registration link will be in the email next week.

In the meantime, the Board of Directors of the Florida Conference is calling for resolutions for the 2018 Annual Gathering.

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 and guidelines as a pdf



Calling all leaders ... The Florida Conference needs you!

If you have a servant's heart and a sincere desire to share your unique gifts in service to God and your community, or if you know someone like that, The Florida Conference needs your help. Won't you consider nominating yourself or someone else who might be willing serve on the Florida Conference Board of Directors, its committees or as a delegate to General Synod in 2019 and 2021?

The Board of Directors and its committees usually meet quarterly in Orlando, with one meeting usually held in conjunction with our Annual Gathering in the Fall. Nominees need to have reliable transportation and enough flexibility that they can attend meetings consistently. In addition, the Board seeks to maintain diversity among its members and committees, with a balance of clergy and lay leaders, ethnic diversity and youth representation.

We are currently seeking to fill the following openings:

  • Board of Directors: Registrar and youth representative under 25
  • Nominating Committee: Two openings
  • Budget & Finance Committee: Three openings
  • Personnel Committee: Two openings
  • Legacy Funds, Investment Committee: Two openings
  • Legacy Funds, Planned Giving Committee: Two openings
  • Committee on Church & Ministry: Openings for one lay man and one lay woman in the northeast region, one lay woman in the southeast region, and one lay woman and one lay man in the west region.

The nomination form may be found -> here ->, and nominations should be sent to dcyril@uccfla.org or mailed to The Florida Conference, 9300 University Blvd., Orlando, FL, 32817 by no later than Aug. 31.



2018 Cheney Award nominations sought

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 Committee on Church and Ministry will select an awardee at their September 2018 meeting, and the award will be presented at the October 12-24 Annual Gathering in Naples, Florida.

The nomination form may be found -> here ->, and nominations should be sent to jvertigan@uccfla.org by no later than Aug. 31, 2018.



Cleveland Pride

Apply now for 2018 Encuentro gathering: Hasta la Raíz 'Down to the Root'

Apply today to join more than 80 students and young people from across the country in this year's annual Encuentro gathering to honor and build upon the Coalition of Immokalee Worker's (CIW's) 25-year legacy of farmworker justice. …

This year's Encuentro gathering will go Hasta la Raíz "Down to the Root" of this incredible history to reflect on lessons CIW and Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) have drawn from past victories and build upon them as the Wendy's Boycott surges on.

From Sept. 20-23, we're bringing together brilliant young organizers from across the country to devise a winning strategy in the Wendy's Boycott. At the Encuentro, we will build our organizing skills and leadership as a network, learn directly from the farmworker community in Immokalee, and delve deep into SFA's rich history in the Campaign for Fair Food.

-> Submit an application -> to join us at the 2018 SFA Encuentro this fall, and don't hesitate to hit us up if you've got any questions at organize@sfalliance.org.

See you in Immokalee!



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:

  • United Church of Gainesville
    Rev. Shelly Ann Wilson, pastor
    Rev. Andrew Bachman, associate pastor
    Rev. Talia Raymond, associate pastor
  • Holiday United Church of Christ
    Dr. Henry "Hank" Johnson, pastor (licensed minister)
  • Union Congregational Church, Holly Hill
    Rev. Stephen Heath, 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. Phyllis Parthemer, special needs ministry, United Methodist Church Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach


Save the date

Aug. 8, 11 a.m.: Florida Conference Zoom Videoconference on new church planting process. (Call for details.)


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


Feb. 8-9, 2019: "Ancient Texts Inspiring New Spiritual Practices" with Celene Lillie and Natalie Rene Perkins, First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1031 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota, FL 34237. -> Details and registration ->


e-Celebrate archive

UCC in Florida website

UCC national site

Donate now

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Orlando, FL 32817


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