Rev. Marsha Brown
SECUCC Conference Connection
November 1, 2019
A Season of Giving Thanks
A few years ago, a local church in another conference declared November to be the liturgical “Season of Giving Thanks.” They created special paraments for the sanctuary and a stole for the pastor of orange and brown; decorated the sanctuary; and designed worship themes with this special focus from All Saints Day (November 1) until Advent. This special season resulted in a lot of creativity and energy!
As I think of the month of November, this makes sense to me. We begin with All Saints Day when we express thanks for those who have been important to us individually and to our churches (of course, if you are from our UCC German Evangelical tradition, this is often done with a similar celebration of Totenfest, the last Sunday of the liturgical year on Nov. 24). This is the time when we are reminded that we have been shaped and blessed by those who came before us. We are thankful!
For many churches, November is Stewardship Month – also a time for giving thanks! It is a time to recognize and celebrate the impact of our local church in our lives and the wider community while looking ahead with plans for the coming year. Too often we associate stewardship with money: making financial pledges and/or creating budgets. Yet even as we consider our anticipated giving, is that not a testament to our thankfulness for our community of faith? The sharing of our financial resources is an indication of our gratefulness and the joy of being part of what is often an imperfect community of disciples. As we give thanks for what has been, there is also a spirit of gratitude and hopefulness for the possibilities God will place before us in the coming year.
In the midst of the challenges that we face, in the midst of the worries and concerns that we have for our country and countries around the world, scripture reminds us to always give thanks. We give thanks to an all-loving God who sees beyond our limited sight and provides us with hope and reassurance of God’s constant love.
Blessings, Char Burch
From the Generosity Coordinator
"Jesus said unto him, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
In a world where people determine their self-worth by their net worth, the offer of Jesus seems unrealistic, unreasonable, and is most often rejected. We walk away from self-sacrifice with great emptiness, for with all of the things we possess in life, without Christ and others, we still have little or nothing to live for.
We so appreciate all the ways that you continue to support this conference in your service, dedication, and support. We are so GRATEFUL that you all made it possible to reach our goals for 2019. God is still in the blessing business.
Blessings as we continue to journey...TOGETHER... Min. Carrole Moss
UCC Ministers Support in Middle Tennessee
On Thursday, November 14th, from 6-8 pm clergy from Middle Tennesee are invited to join together in Nashville. We are beginning some conversation about how we might support one another, or teach one another, as we seek to offer a progressive Christian voice with one another and our communities. We will have a short Taize style worship, followed by a bring your own supper and conversation. Come to Howard Congregational Church, UCC, on 2802 Buchanan Street in Nashville. We hope you can be here! Contact Jean Norton for more information.
2020 Annual Meeting Logo Contest
We are getting excited in the Southeast Conference for our 2020 Annual Meeting in Montgomery Alabama June 19th-20 with Rev. Traci Blackmon as our Guest. ARE YOU? Here is one way that you can help us get others excited to join us this year to make our Annual Meeting wonderful.
We need you to help us coming up with a unique design/logo centered around this year’s theme: “Reflecting on Our Past, Focusing on Our Future” (1 Corinthians 12:12). The deadline to submit your entry is December 17th, 2019 at midnight. All submissions must be in JPEG format. Please upload your entry here. The Annual Meeting Planning Committee will judge the entries in December and the winner will be announced in January.
Spirit of the Cross Celebrates “Pink Sunday”
Spirit of the Cross Church (UCC) in Huntsville, Alabama, held its annual Pink Sunday service on October 20 in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Hope was the theme of the worship service as congregants dressed in pink. During the service, the congregation honored those fighting breast cancer, rededicated themselves to advocate for better healthcare, and remembered those who lost their battle with the disease. Information about breast cancer, screening, and exams was also shared. After the service, Spirit of the Cross, along with Thrive Alabama and the local YMCA, held a community-wide health fair in a city park that adjoins the church’s property.
UCC Training & Learning Opportunities:
Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders (MSTI) The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center is once again offering Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders (MSTI) from March 23-27, 2020. This course is for pastors and other church leaders interested in learning skills to help them deal more effectively with interpersonal, congregational, and other forms of group conflict. It will be held at Grace Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill, SC (near Charlotte, NC). Please note that those who register no later than February 21, 2020, will receive a $200 discount off their tuition. For more information please contact the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center at 630-627-0507 or admin@LMPeaceCenter.org. To register online please go to https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4316493.
Back Bay Mission Trip Information Session Friday, November 22, 2019 at Pleasant Hill Community Church is an opportunity to find out more about the upcoming Nov 8-14, 2020, work camp mission trip to Back Bay Mission in Biloxi MS. The information session is for anyone wanting to know more; if you attend you are not required to make the trip. A first planning session for the trip will take place in January. In February a $100 deposit per person (towards a total of $250) will start the mission trip process by meeting together regularly and learning about the guidelines provided by Back Bay Mission.
Courageous Faith Virtual Summit Faith leaders stand at a crossroads in North America today. As people of faith and moral conscious, we can either sit idly by and allow hate, greed, and fear to define us or we can channel the heart of our tradition and speak truth to greedy power, love to angry hate, and hope to unfounded fear. The Courageous Faith Summit provides a critical look at where we are now and how we get to a more sustainable and equitable future. Through interviews with influential North American faith leaders in activist-oriented congregations, the event will equip virtual leaders with the audacity, connections, and practice advice to be active leaders in an emerging movement for change. This online event will take place March 9-20, 2020, with 40 presenters providing 25+ hours of content, all online. Learn more.
Healthy Boundaries 201 November 5 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm EST Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur GA Board of Directors Meeting November 7 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST Installation of Rev. Brian Byrne November 10 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm CST United Church of Huntsville, Huntsville AL Annual Meeting Planning Session November 11 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST Online Virtual Meeting UCC Middle Tennessee Pastor Gathering November 14 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm CST Howard Congregational Church, Nashville, TN Commission on Ministry Retreat Nov. 15-16, 2019 Beloved UCC, Birmingham, AL Ordination of Stephanie Milton November 17 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST First Congregational Church, Atlanta, GA Council of Conference Ministers November 19 - November 22 Birmingham, Alabama Staff Meeting November 26 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am EST Online Virtual Meeting Annual Meeting Planning Session December 9 - November 10 Community Congregational Church, Birmingham AL Winter Youth Retreat January 17, 2020 - January 20, 2020 Blowing Rock Conference Center, Blowing Rock NC MID Retreat January 31, 2020 - February 1, 2020 Atlanta, GA (location TBD) SEC Clergy Retreat March 8-10, 2020 Monteagle, TN SEC Annual Meeting June 19-20, 2020 Montgomery, AL National Youth Event July 22-25, 2020 Purdue University, IN