The journey of Lent is an invitation
by Rev. Char Burch, Transitional Conference Minister
Grace to you and peace! The Lenten Journey has begun. It has been described as a holy journey: a journey toward God. That image has had me pondering. If we have a tradition of "giving up" certain things for Lent which is suppose to help us feel discomfort, does it help us move closer to God? If we have a tradition of "adding something" like a spiritual practice, an extra weekly worship experience, or particular acts of kindness, do they help us move closer to God?
The journey of Lent is an invitation. In a world that is filled with fear and hatred, a world where time seems to be of short supply, Lent is an invitation to take a deep breath, turn away and turn toward those things that draw us closer to God and Jesus the Christ.
The season began with Ash Wednesday, the liturgy of which is focused on remembering our mortality and acknowledging our imperfection. The journey of Lent now continues to remind us to consider this earthly life as the opportunity to see the blessings that God has given us, even though life is often filled with challenges and difficulties. The Gospel lectionary scriptures for Lent encourage us in the midst of our lives to reflect on the question "who is this Jesus, the Christ" and how does our faith change our lives.
The Board of Directors of the Southeast Conference has placed much emphasis this past year on making connections. It has been about lifting up and celebrating the faithful ministries that happen through local churches and through those involved in outreach and specialized ministries. The season of Lent reminds us to ask the question - why are we involved in those ministries? Is the root of our commitment and passion different from others involved in similar ministries? When we ask and clarify "the why," we are strengthened in the passion and commitment to keep moving forward to change the world because of God's love.
Our local churches, individual members and ministers of the Southeast Conference have voices that need to be heard in our world today, in our communities and beyond. May this Lent be the season to ground ourselves in that which is the core of our being; and listen anew for God's voice encouraging us and strengthening us for the continued journey, even beyond Lent.
Blessings! - Char
From the Generosity Coordinator
by Min. Carrole Moss, Generosity Coordinator
What happens when we are generous?
2 Corinthians 9: 6-8 teaches us: "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for GOD loves a cheerful giver. And GOD is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in good work."
THANK YOU ALL for your 2019 gifts and contributions. It was one of our best years to date. We are grateful for all the ways you continue to support this conference and the work of the same. We look forward to another record year in 2020.
A note of thanks to all who applied for a Cycle one/spring Transforming Lives Transforming Churches grant. Thank you for respecting the deadlines and adhering to the guidelines. We are concerned about all of our churches and want to support in any way that we can.
Please continue to reach out to me with your suggestions, questions and invitations to your church as we continue to make this conference that beacon of light and hope.
Together, we make a difference.
Continued 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 email@example.com or Julie Binney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for registration to begin soon. Don't forget that there will be an extensive the youth program for all ages!
Annual Meeting Logo Winner Announced
We are pleased to announce that Jessica Hilderbrand-Marshall is the winner of the 2020 Annual Meeting logo contest. Jessica, our returning winner from 2019, is a 2002 graduate of Penn State University and a 20 year veteran of the graphic design and promotional product industry. Currently, she is the President of CustomComet, LLC . and in charge of the entire consumer facing side of the company with special attention to the art and marketing teams. Jessica recently combined her company, Salvaged Soul Designs, with CustomComet in order to provide even more services to all of her clients as well as the promotional product customers that CustomComet serves.
Jessica also serves as the visual designer for Phoenix Christian Church, UCC in Wildersville, TN. Not only does she design and create the weekly services and special events, but also works diligently on the weekly prayer list/newsletter, website & social media pages. She designs t-shirts and fundraisers that the church puts on annually. This year they are kicking off fundraising efforts with a 108-page cookbook, Valentine's Fellowship Dinner, Spring Bike Blessing, Church Camp Outs, fellowship luncheons and some cool new products to sell too! Air Fresheners, Lapel Pins, Banners, T-shirts, Traditional Printed Items & so much more! Jessica has a wealth of knowledge and design skills that can find a solution at any budget. If you're looking for a fundraising idea, or someone to design your next church t-shirts, turn to CustomComet or Salvaged Soul Designs and reach out to Jess… she's always happy to help!
Calling all Specialized Ministers!
Specialized Ministers are invited to be in conversation via Zoom on Tuesday, March 31: 9:30 am Eastern Time. This is a continuation of the conversation begun in February. All Specialized Ministers are welcome!! Register Online!
Coronavirus Information from the UCC
As new cases of the coronavirus are reported in other countries and across the United States, United Church of Christ leaders are urging education, caution and common sense - sharing a few basic guidelines to enable congregations and other UCC organizations to find useful, relevant information to plan their course of action.
UCC Disaster Ministries has developed a web section for congregations that includes a word from Blackmon, a bulletin insert and an excellent resource from the Southern New England Conference UCC, with a checklist and advice for community engagement, worship (e.g. communion, offering, passing the peace), communications, leadership backup, pastoral care and even fiscal concerns. Learn more on the UCC website.
Full Newsletter online at www.secucc.org