Having trouble viewing this email? Click here Jan. 9, 2020

Conference Call

John VertiganHappy New Year, Church.

Allow me to add one more article to the many you've likely seen in the last weeks reflecting on last year with an eye toward faithfulness to the Gospel to which we are called. (Thanks, in advance, for indulging me.)

I realize, the longer I am in conference ministry, that Raymond and Leslie and Neal are a most vital component in relationships with local churches. They and the support staff here in Orlando interact with local leaders more frequently than I ever can to support specific ministry objectives that arise on a daily basis. I am thankful for Dave and Dana and Beth in the office, along with the professional staff, for the ministries of leadership they fulfill on your behalf.

I also came to realize anew, about mid-year 2019, that my ministry these days is steeped in administration. Look at the word. ADMINISTRATION. It has ministry right there in it. In the case of my ministry, though, it has lacked (recently, at least) the relational aspects of my vocation that I enjoyed earlier in my career.

Even so, 2019 was a good year administratively!

  • We piloted a program of cooperative church mentoring that we will evaluate and hope to expand in 2020. Seven congregations helped with this launch.
  • We put into place a Board-approved Safe Conference policy for use when we host events for people of all ages. (Does your church have a safe-place policy?)
  • We trained a pool of volunteers for leadership on response teams should allegations of pastoral professional misconduct arise.
  • We provided a day-long good governance workshop for our Board of Directors to help them understand their role and responsibilities as leaders in the Florida Conference.
  • We performed an audit of our technology needs at 9300 Church House with an eye to significant updates in 2020 that will keep us more current with the evolving digital age.
  • We managed a folio of legacy funds that made possible grants to churches and pastors across the state.
  • I was also privileged to serve on the Board of the United Church of Christ and as a Director with the United Church of Christ Insurance Board.

Maybe none of that sounds exciting from a local church perspective. I understand that. But projects like these are the types that get me out of bed each day with the fervent hope that by doing things like this we create deeper and richer possibilities for shared covenantal relationship that benefits every partner in the Conference.

Thank you for being a partner with us in the Florida Conference. I pray that in the coming year your own ministry – your own way of responding to your baptism – will be faithful and fruitful and as full of potential as even a ministry of administration can be when done for the sake of healthy and meaningful relationship.

To that end … healthy and meaningful relationship – I invite you to 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 2019 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 4.

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 over the years, 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.

We know you're busy, especially at the start of a new year. But filing your reports really is important. "Why," you ask. Well, you'll find just a few good reasons -> here ->.

If you find the old paper forms useful for gathering up all your information before entering it into the Data Hub, you may download updated 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 2019 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 2019. 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 2019 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 4. 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", "Other UCC 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.

Once again this year, there 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 40 prizes.

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 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.

Sarasota church offers Epiphany labyrinth walk

Making resolutions, easy; keeping resolutions, difficult!

Join us at First Congregational United Church of Christ of Sarasota on Saturday morning, Jan. 11, and discover how the labyrinth can help you in accomplishing your goals for 2020. From 10:30 a.m. to noon, a brief overview of tips on decision making and goal setting will be followed by an opportunity to walk the labyrinth.

The church is at 1031 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota, FL 34237, and this labyrinth experience is sponsored by THE SEEKERS and will be co-facilitated by Jim Cross and Lindsey Huddleston.

UCC Webinar: Activist Theology with Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

This month's -> Creation Justice Webinar -> will feature theologian Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, who has been named one of 10 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress.

With a new book entitled Activist Theology, Henderson-Espinoza will help us connect the struggle for creation justice to the kind of theological reflection needed to build a movement.

Even if you can't make it to the webinar at Jan. 14 at 1 p.m., sign up anyway to receive a recording. -> Register today! ->

Nominating Committee seeks help filling positions

Two of our finance leaders have retired "up north" and have left important vacancies. Dr. Ray Borko, treasurer for the conference, is moving out of state at the end of the month, and Ray Piedl, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, retired to Maine at the end of October.

We are also looking for a youth under 25 to serve on the Board of Directors.

Can you please help? If you know of someone who could fill any of these vacancies, please call the conference office at (407) 835-7501 and ask for a nomination form for them to fill out. The first two positions will have to be vetted, of course.

We ask for your support at this time to keep things running smoothly please!

Dyanne Edds, chair, Nominating Committee

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:

  • Christ Congregational Church, Miami
    Rev. Candace Thomas, interim pastor
  • Church of the Open Door Congregational, Miami
    Rev. Adrian McLean, interim pastor
  • Idlesia De Cristo: Libres por la Verdad, Miami
    Mr. Heriberto Rivera, 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:

  • Neal Watkins, minister for faith formation, Florida Conference of The United Church of Christ

Save the date

July 22-25: National Youth Event, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. For more information, -> click here ->.
Oct. 8-10: 2020 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference of The United Church of Christ, Coral Gables Congregational UCC, 3010 DeSoto Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33134. Stay tuned for more information.

e-Celebrate archive

UCC in Florida website

UCC national site

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