SECUCC Conference Connection: January 15, 2020
Come to the Water
by Rev. Char Burch, Transitional Conference Minister
Calling all SEC authorized ministers! If you have ever felt tired, overwhelmed, or concerned about the future - please keep reading and "Come to the Water!" If you would benefit from a few days away with time to reflect and be nourished - "Come to the Water." If you seek ways to have more balance in your life - "Come to the Water." If you could benefit from connections with colleagues - "Come to the Water."
Whether as a pastor of a local church, a chaplain, a pastoral counselor, or even retired, life can be stressful. This is an opportunity to distress! The UCC Pension Boards is providing us with the resources to make possible this Clergy Wellness Retreat. The program includes some great workshops, worship, free time and even chair-massages. Since spouses/partners are part of the well-being of authorized ministers, they are also invited to attend. Note: if you are not an authorized minister, encourage those you know to attend!
I know that it is easy to say "I don't have time to get away" or "taking the time to relax will actually create more stress." I have said these things. But I have also learned that making the effort to attend such a retreat as this can actually provide the extra breath needed to restore one's well-being. So come, come to the water and be refreshed!
Date: March 8-10, Place: DuBose Conference Center, Monteagle, TN Cost: $20 per person for 2 nights and 5 meals (Cost waived for MIDs) Registration Deadline: February 21
For the details, schedule and registration click here.
From the Generosity Coordinator
by Min. Carrole Moss, Generosity Coordinator
It is my prayer that this year is off to a grand start. Pray that the holidays were great and that you all entered 2020 refreshed and renewed.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:7. My face is shining upon you, beaming out Peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face to face with me, Your Peace As long as you focus on ME, you are safe. The closer you live to me, you are SAFE!"
It's that time again, Transforming Churches, Transforming Lives Grants Season. Please review these documents as there have been a few changes to the application to ensure clarity. The application form for this grant will be available on our website from January 20th through February 24th, 2020. Should you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me, DIRECTLY. I'm here to serve.
Thank you for your 2019 Our Churches Wider Missions (OCWM) contributions. You are so important to so many. Your support is so valued and needed.
On a personal note: A huge THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to pray for me, call, text, visit and simply had me on your mind in these past weeks during my recovery. God heard your prayers, and I'm GRATEFUL!
May God continue to bless you, richly, is my prayer. Peace and blessings, as we continue to journey in 2020.
Upcoming Coffees with Char & Heather (Virtual Conversations)
January - Ideas for Lent: You are invited to talk with other pastors about themes and creative presentations as you prepare for Lent. Perhaps you have an idea to share or you are seeking a new idea. Join us for a Zoom conversation. This can be done via computer or phone. Sign up for the date that works for you.
January 28 (Tuesday) at 7 pm Eastern time: Register Online
January 30 (Thursday) at 10 am Eastern time: Register Online
February - Specialized Ministers: How can the Conference support you in your valuable ministry The ministry of Specialized Ministers touches hundreds of people and the Conference is grateful! This will be a time for you to share your perspectives on ways in which the Conference can provide support to you.
February 11 (Tuesday) - 10 am Eastern: Register Online
February 13 (Thursday) - 7 pm Eastern: Register Online
After you have made a reservation, you will receive an email providing you with the link for the connection. If you need assistance making a "reservation" please contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-719-6572. Come and join with your colleagues in conversation!
Puerto Rico Earthquake Recovery Assistance
In Puerto Rico, a series of powerful earthquakes, including one of 6.4 magnitude on Tuesday, January 7, have killed one person, injured several, unleashed small landslides and caused homes and other buildings to crack and crumble. The earthquakes and aftershocks have taken out power across most of the island, also leaving hundreds of thousands without water.
In response, the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, UCC associate general minister and co-executive for Global Ministries, is dispatching funds to Global Ministries partner IEUPR (Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico) so the church can assist with needs of first response, such such as hygiene kits. Disaster Ministries is also issuing an emergency appeal to continue to assist the people of the island with a goal of $250,000. Learn more on the UCC website.
Worshipers Targeted by Gift Card Scam
The Federal Trade Commission, our Conference staff, and some of our churches report that they are seeing a new spin on gift card scams. This time, scammers are pretending to be a pastor asking worshipers for gift card contributions for a worthy cause. Appeals are often made by email, but we've heard people are also getting texts and phone calls, too.
The bogus emails often include the name of the local pastor and a legitimate-looking email address. But a closer look should raise some red flags. For example, the email address isn't the one normally used by the church, and the service provider is different, too. The message may begin with a simple "Hi," but doesn't include a recipients' name. There also may be spelling errors, including the pastor's name.
The imposter asks you to buy a popular gift card and then asks for the gift card number and PIN on the back of the card. Those numbers let the scammer immediately get the money you loaded onto the card. And once that's done, the scammer and your money are gone, usually without a trace. Learn more about how to prevent this scam on the FTC website.
Tax Resources for UCC Employees and Employers
Did you know that the Pension Boards has a wealth of information available for clergy and churches as they prepare their taxes? Documents include a Clergy Tax Return Preparation Guide (formerly Tax Guide for Ministers), information about the Housing Allowance Resolution (for tax year 2019), as well as Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches. It's available on the Pension Boards website.
For the rest of this newsletter, visit the SEC UCC Online at www.secucc.org.