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Conference Call

Rev. John VertiganMy Morning Prayer book called me to quiet with words from Psalm 55:

"I will call upon God and God will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday,
I will complain and lament
God will bring me back, God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me."

In writing on this Psalm, Reformation theologian John Calvin said, "The Psalmist does not refer to something already done, but rather excites himself to the duty of prayer, and to the exercise of hope and confidence."

I appreciate those words today during this second week of the U.S. Government shutdown (during which I somehow still managed to get a letter from the IRS). The physical mess being described relative to our national parks stands as metaphor for the very real mess we are in as a civil society at the beginning of this year. Our national parks are meant to be a source of pride; our government has for generations been a symbol of hope to many in the world.

CNN reports relative to Joshua Tree national park, "In addition to human waste in public areas, driving off road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem." The National Park Service also said the shutdown prevented it from making staff available to "provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response."

"Any entry onto NPS property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor's sole risk," the park service said this week. Trash collection has stopped, along with road and walkway maintenance. (CNN.com)

In other words, things are a mess, and there doesn't seem to be anyone around to help clean it up at Joshua Tree or in Washington. That means now is the time for us in the United Church of Christ to make our voices heard. We can make our voices heard as we raise prayers to God who will hear us, and we can make our voices heard as we raise witness in Washington and beyond to God who demands justice for the oppressed, inclusion for the marginalized, and welcome to strangers as they seek a homeland.

Like Calvin with his notes on prayer in the Psalm, we note that the work of justice, inclusion and welcome is not done, but we might be excited to the duty of hope and confidence in proclaiming a new way while mired in the current government standoff. May each of us choose to be a guide along The Way, an assistant on the journey, for those who would truly bring in something new in this New Year. My best to each of you as we begin again with freshened resolve.

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

Rev. John Vertigan
Conference Minister

Data Hub now open for church Yearbook reports

Yep, it's that time again … time for all United Church of Christ churches to gather up their numbers and information and submit their reports for the 2018 UCC Yearbook!

We're asking all churches in the Florida Conference to please submit their reports by no later than the end of the day on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The Data Hub will close, and churches will no longer be able to enter their reports after midnight on Wednesday, March 6.

As has been the case for the last several years, all church data must be submitted online, directly into the UCC Data Hub. But fear not, although the way the Data Hub looks has changed a little (it's now smartphone-friendly), the process is almost exactly the same as last year. So if you entered your reports in the Data Hub last year, filing your reports this year should be a snap. And, of course, we're here to help if needed.

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 five to six digits. You can find the 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.)

So, using The Church By the Sea in Bal Harbour (Church 30 in the Florida Conference) as an example, their User Name would be 120030. Using Holiday United Church of Christ (Church 155 in the Florida Conference) as another example, their User Name would be 120155.

The passwords for all churches have been reset to "password" (without the quotes).

Once you've logged in, you will be prompted to change your password immediately. Please make sure to write your new password down and put it somewhere where you'll be able to find it later. Then click the blue "Continue" button.

At this point, you should see a page that says "Welcome to the UCC Data Hub for entering 2018 church data!" If you submitted your reports online last year, you can then click "My Church" in the black navigation bar at the top of the page. You should then see your church name and number, followed by several tabs below. By default, the first tab, "Main Info" should be selected. On this tab and the next ("Addresses"), just confirm that all the information is correct. If not, make whatever changes are appropriate and then click the blue "Update" button at the top of the page to save your changes. You must click "Update" or your changes will not be saved.

The actual reports that you're all familiar with are under the next four tabs, "Membership", "Attendance", "Finance" and "Ministerial Support". When you click on these tabs, you'll see a black table header below, followed by all your church data from previous years. Just above that header and below the tabs, you'll find a button to click to enter your data from 2018. It will say "Add New xyz Year Data", where the xyz is the name of the tab, for example, "Add New Membership Year Data" under the "Membership" tab. When you click on that, you'll get the form you need to complete as a pop-up. When you've entered all your data, simply click the blue "Add" button at the bottom of the form to submit and save the data. You must click "Add" or your data will not be saved.

If you start entering your data and then need to attend to something else, just save your data as described above, then come back later and pick up where you left off. To do so, log in, click "My Church" and then the tab for the report you want to edit, and finally, click the little pencil to the left of 2018 in the top row of data. Or, if you discover that one of the numbers you entered is incorrect, you can come back and change it later, as long as it's before March 6. After that, only conference or national staff can make changes.

If this is your first time submitting your reports online, you might want to visit the online Data Hub tips and tutorials section before you get started. Under "Video Tutorials" on this page, you will find video walk-throughs for each of the reports you need to submit. Just above those are a few helpful links — "Definitions Tip Sheet for Local Churches", "UCC Other Giving" and "Yearbook Guide to Total Church Participants and Community Engagement Categories", and there's a link to "Church Yearbook Instructions" from the national setting that covers what we've just covered above in much more detail.

One thing that is different this year is a short, supplemental survey the national setting would like you to complete. If you submit your annual reports and complete the survey, your church will be entered into a drawing for one of 32 (not 25 as indicated) prizes. You can -> find details here ->.

Once again, if you need help getting your Yearbook reports submitted, we're here for you. Please feel free to call or email Dave Cyril or Leigh McCaffrey at (407) 835-7501 or dcyril@uccfla.org with any questions or challenges you may encounter. And if, for any reason, you are unsure or uncomfortable entering the data online yourself, just call to set up a time with us to either walk you through the process or have us take your information over the phone and enter it for you.

Last chance … 2018 OCWM and Per Capita deadlines are upon us

The end of 2018 has now passed, and we need your help to make our year-end bookkeeping and crediting as efficient and timely as possible.

If you haven't done so already, you still have a few days to send your 2018 OCWM and Per Capita funds on a check dated Dec. 31, 2018, or earlier. The funds must arrive at the Florida Conference office on or before Jan. 10, 2019, to receive credit for 2018 giving to the conference and for the conference to receive credit at the national setting.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Beth Shedden at bshedden@uccfla.org or call (407) 835-7501 during office hours Tuesday through Friday.

Thank you for your commitment to the United Church of Christ and for your attention to this end-of-the-year request.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days

Register now for Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2019

Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community, and its recognized partners and allies, grounded in biblical witness and our shared traditions of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Our goal, through worship, theological reflection and opportunities for learning and witness, is to strengthen our Christian voice and to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of U.S. domestic and international policy issues. -> Register today! ->

UCC webinar features leading climate scientists and faith leaders

Recently, a couple of -> major climate reports -> have been released that highlight the impact of climate change on our world and the urgent need to act. As part of the UCC's monthly -> Creation Justice Webinar Series ->, the insights and moral imperatives of the reports will be discussed by three leading climate voices.

Katherine Hayhoe was a coauthor of the National Climate Assessment, and she has frequently focused on communicating about climate change to an evangelical audience. Naomi Oreskes is a professor at Harvard University and has long been engaged in high profile discussions and documentaries about the science of climate change. Jim Antal is a national leader in faith activism on climate change and is the recent author of Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change.

->Sign up now to join this webinar ->. While the webinar is on Jan. 9 register even if you can't make it, and a recording will be sent to you.

Professional ethics education offerings for Winter 2019

Jan. 24 — Social Media Ethics (online) with Neal Watkins and Rev. Leigh McCaffrey, 1-3 p.m. Cost is $25. Participants join from their local computers for three hours and then write a one-page reflection paper for submission to the Committee on Church and Ministry. This workshop covers basic ethical concerns in using social media and also best practices for authorized ministers. Limit 12 participants. -> Register now! ->

Feb. 2 — Clergy Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting with UCC General Counsel Heather Kimmel, 1-4 p.m. at the Florida Church House, 9300 University Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817. Admission is free. Do you know what information that has been obtained in carrying out ministerial responsibilities clergy may be required to share? Do you know the difference between a secret, a confidence and a privileged communication? All this and more will be covered in the presentation. -> Register now! ->

Feb. 27-April 9 — Professional Boundaries and Ministerial Self-Care from PATHWAYS online and asynchronous. Cost is $295. Covers three units and CEU's for those whose employment requires them. In this course, ethics and their application for professional pastoral ministers are explored. We will consider the boundaries that define the relationships between professional pastoral minister and congregants. -> Register now! ->

March 25 — Roles and Relationships (online) with Rev. Leigh McCaffrey, 1-4 p.m. Cost is $25. Participants join from their local computers for three hours. This workshop will explore power and vulnerability, dual relationships, the pulpit, and personal needs and self-care. Once you have registered, you will be sent directions for using ZOOM videoconferencing, which you can join from your laptop, tablet or smartphone. After the workshop, you will be asked to submit a one-page reflection paper to the Committee on Church and Ministry. Limit 12 participants. -> Register now! ->

Online Webinars through the Insurance Board (if your church has a policy with them): -> Insurance Board "Safe Conduct Workbench" ->.

The following courses together would constitute one unit of professional ethics education:

Hello I'm Sam: Learn the types of molesters, their methods and how they use them to manipulate their co-workers, parents and children — all to meet their own needs. Also, how to spot potentially dangerous interactions between adults and children.

Navigate the Murky Waters of Sexual Harassment: Learn how to prevent, detect and report sexual harassment.

Abuse Prevention Refresher: Build on knowledge and learn new information about how sexual abuse occurs, using red flags, preventing false allegations, preventing sexual activity, and apply what you know. Available in Spanish and French.

Now You're a Supervisor: (Supervisors only) Learn what constitutes workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation, plus legal requirements and concepts.

Duty to Report, Mandated Reporter: Learn why reporting abuse and neglect is critical, legal responsibilities, what types of conduct must be reported, and how to report it.

If you participate in boundary/ethics education or training in another work setting, please send receipts or certificates to lmccaffrey@uccfla.org for credit.

2019 Shared Scholar lecture and seminar at Sanibel UCC

The Sanibel and Captiva Interfaith Shared Scholar Committee is pleased to announce that the 2019 Shared Scholar will be the Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell. He will present a lecture entitled "Faiths Finding Faith in Each Other" on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, at 7 p.m. at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, 2050 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957. A reception and book signing will follow.

The Shared Scholar Committee is sponsored by five congregations on Sanibel and Captiva: Bat Yam – Temple of the Islands, Captiva Chapel by the Sea, The Christian Science Church of Sanibel, Saint Michael and All Angels, and Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. The Shared Scholar Lecture Series is also supported by the Leo Rosner Foundation.

For additional information, contact the church office at (239) 472-0497.

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:

  • Riviera United Church of Christ, Palm Bay
    Rev. Tim Woodard, pastor
  • Pensacola Beach Community UCC
    Rev. James Coyle, pastor
  • Good Samaritan Church, Pinellas Park
    Rev. Jen Daysa, 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. Anthony Britten-Campbell, chaplain, All Children's Hospital, Pastoral Care, St. Petersburg

Save the date

Jan. 24-25, 2019: 2019 Shared Scholar lecture and seminar featuring Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell, Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, 2050 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33857. There is no charge to attend. For additional information, contact the church office at (239) 472-0497.

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 ->

Feb. 19-21, 2019: 2019 Academy of Parish Clergy Annual Conference, Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center, 1601 Alafaya Trail, Oviedo, FL 32765. -> Details and registration ->

e-Celebrate archive

UCC in Florida website

UCC national site

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