by Rev. Char Burch, Transitional Conference Minister
Grace to you and peace! I must admit that there are days when I go to bed feeling weighted down. The world is not what I think it ought to be and I don't seem to be able to change it. There is the divisiveness in our culture; inequality and injustice; people facing daily hunger in this country and around the world; environmental issues which are intensifying rapidly because of climate change; illness and pain, etc. I find myself dealing with anger at situations that should not be as they are; guilt that I have not done enough to change things; and shame about things I know I cannot control. These lead to wavering feelings between depression and cynicism. Yes, sometimes I feel weighed down and perhaps you do too.
Then I turn to scripture and the various worlds in which our spiritual ancestors lived. I think of the situations that Jesus faced - perhaps they are not so different. There was divisiveness, injustice, and inequality; people facing many burdens; etc. So was Jesus ever depressed at the lack of response by structures and individuals who could affect so many lives? Was Jesus ever cynical in thinking that some people or situations would never change? Of course! After all, he was human!
BUT Jesus had the vision of what could be. Jesus also learned ways to retreat from the chaos around him and refocus through prayer and communion with God. Because of his vision and reliance on God, he was able to let go of distress and keep moving forward. I find that I also need to be reminded to stay focused: to see each person as a child of God with their own story; to be spurred into action that leads to positive changes; to accept that I cannot change everything, and to realize that sometimes the most effective thing I can do is to be involved in simple acts of kindness. I sometimes need to be reminded about forgiveness and hope and love. For these reflect the kingdom of God.
So for those nights when I approach sleep feeling weighed down, I try to let go of thoughts of the things that have not been done, give over to God my fears and concerns about the darkness of the world, and sleep expectantly of the joys and possibilities of the new day ahead. It does work! If you ever have such heaviness at night, I sincerely pray that you are able to lift the burdens to God and wake up with the hope and joy of a new day.
May we remember that God has the larger picture and we are called to be faithful by staying focused, knowing that we are working with the Spirit which is very much alive in the world today!
Blessings! - Char
From the Generosity Coordinator
by Min. Carrole Moss, Generosity Coordinator
Friendly reminder: the deadline for submission of your Transforming Churches Transforming Lives application is February 24, 2020. Please check the secucc.org website if you still have questions or concerns, or if you need to download the application, or, please feel free to reach out to me directly as the deadline approaches.
We look forward to working with you and really appreciate all the ways you continue to support this conference. A huge note of THANKS to all of you for your contributions and support for this Southeast Conference United Church of Christ. 2019 was a great year and we look forward to 2020 as being even greater as we continue to move forward in our discernment, our service, and our love, one to the other.
Matthew 20:16 teaches: "So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen." We have been chosen for SUCH A TIME AS THIS. Let us continue to serve and as we continue to be all that God has called us to be!!!
It's a new season, it's a new day....Please continue to invite me to your churches so that we can continue on this mission.
Peace and blessings, as we continue to journey...TOGETHER!
Southeast Conference Annual Meeting
Mark your calendar and join us for our Southeast Conference Annual Meeting. June 19-20, Montgomery, Alabama.
The Annual Meeting Planning Committee is seeking ideas for innovative programs/outreach missions that might be shared during one of the workshop options. If you feel your church has an innovative program that might be of interest to other churches, please contact Ugena Whitlock at firstname.lastname@example.org or Julie Binney at email@example.com.
Look for registration to begin soon. Don't forget that there will be an extensive the youth program for all ages!
Seeking Nominations (Volunteers!) for Conference Leadership Positions
by Rev. James Harris
"We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness." Romans 12:6-8
Are you looking for ways that your unique gift can be used? Perhaps serving on the Board of Directors for the Southeast Conference is just what you have been searching for! We are looking for leaders willing to help guide and serve, as we do God's work within our Conference. If you have the desire and willingness to bring your gift of leadership, compassion, generosity, and teaching as a way of ministry, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UCC youth invited to UNITE! at NYE 2020
Youth from across the United Church of Christ are invited to UNITE! at this summer's National Youth Event (NYE), July 22-25 in West Lafayette, Ind. The quadrennial event centered on the four pillars of faith, leadership, service and social justice is returning to the campus of Purdue University, with registration for groups now available on the NYE website.
Midway Congregational UCC Celebrates 148th Anniversary
by Carrole Moss
Midway Congregational UCC in Midway, GA recently celebrated its 148th year anniversary.
The youth liturgical dancers performed, the music was spirit-filled, the guest from other conferences, the food, and the hospitality was awesome. It was an amazing day.
The message was received well as the keynote speaker was Min. Carrole Moss, generosity coordinator, Southeast Conference United Church of Christ. This is a congregation rich in history as they began worshipping under a "brush arbor" and the importance of education and family was of most importance.
We are grateful to this congregation for all the ways that they continue to support this conference and the many initiatives regarding our Mental Health Initiatives.
Cookeville UCC Rallys at Tennessee State Capitol
A protest for LGBTQ adoption rights was held on Saturday, February 15 at Nashville's Legislative Plaza. The Tennessee Activist Coalition held the protest in response to Gov. Bill Lee's new bill, which assures continued taxpayer funding of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies even if they exclude LGBTQ families and others based on religious beliefs. The group was met with counter-protesters, who brought signs and a megaphone.
Representing UCC congregations across Tennessee were folks from the United Church of Cookeville. Rev. James Bowman Harris, pastor of the Cookeville church, says "Holy Scripture calls us to care for the orphans. We want to share Jesus' love for ALL people and ask the Tennessee legislature and governor to rescind the recently passed bill." Watch the news video here.
For more on this newsletter, visit www.secucc.org