Tag: SCC (Page 1 of 6)

Living Generously

Have you ever heard the story about the time Fred Rogers–“Mr. Rogers” — spoke at a National Press Club luncheon? I read about it in a sermon by Thomas Long years ago and searched for it recently to share with you. I think it could be helpful as we prepare to share a Christmas Fund appeal with our churches.

Here’s Thomas Long recounting the story:

“When Fred Rogers stood up to speak, he said that he knew the room was filled with many of the best reporters in the nation, men and women who had achieved much. Rogers then took out a pocket watch and announced that he was going to keep two minutes of silence, and he invited everybody in the room to remember people in their past—parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and others—who had made it possible for them to accomplish so much. And then Mister Rogers stood there, looked at his watch and saying nothing.

“The room grew quiet, and as the seconds ticked away and before Fred Rogers tucked away his watch, one could hear all around the room people sniffling as they were moved by the memories of those who had made sacrifices on their behalf and who had given them many gifts.” (Thomas G. Long, Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian, p. 110).

Mr. Rogers call to remember was a gift to everyone in attendance. The tears shed were of gratitude for the memories. We often focus only on the good our generosity will accomplish out in the world. Our gifts truly make a difference. But these gifts also have an impact on us; to make a gift touches our heart too.

What do you think about inviting the folks in the pew to remember the pastors, choir directors, other lay church workers, and their families who meant so much to them over the years? I propose that a simple invitation to remember the church leaders who taught, mentored, inspired, and loved us during our toughest times, our formative years, and our seasons of celebration may be the best invitation to giving to the Christmas Fund.

I believe that fundraising is an opportunity to draw closer to people in a truly heartfelt way. When you invite folks to give, you are inviting them into a deeper relationship with you and the mission of your church. How we spend our money is probably the best evidence of where our hearts are, of what we value the most. Whenever you make a fundraising appeal for a worthy cause, you are helping make great things happen. You are also allowing folks to feel the impact of their own generosity and gratitude.

We can do this when promoting the Christmas Fund, the next special mission offering in the UCC. Donations to the Christmas Fund provide hope from the church through financial relief to pastors, lay workers, and their families.  Begin your promotion by giving people the space to remember their spiritual mentors can be a simple and effective way to ask for support. A minute or two of grateful silence to recall the church leaders whose abundant love helped us get here this Sunday morning may be the best appeal to the Christmas Fund we can make.

Whenever you fundraise, consider how a treasured memory can lead people to be overwhelmed with joy

Yours in faith,
Rev. Paul Ramsey
Pension Boards UCC

PS: You can learn more about the Christmas Fund at www.Christmasfund.org.

2023 SCC Annual Meeting

The SCC Annual Meeting will be held May 19-20, 2023!

We will gather together at Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas.

See Invite Here! … also below.

Stay tuned for further information regarding hotel reservations and meeting registration.






Community or Communion

September 14, 2022 | Conference Minister Musings by Phil Hodson

A community is a group of people who come together around shared values. Sometimes it’s a common enemy. Others a common set of values or beliefs. Communities are important and they matter. They reflect a pluralized society, made up of many groups come together with a common interest. In the best of times, communities are a draw, and they invite individuals in to be part of something larger than themselves. Often we talk of the church as community, and often that is reflective of who we endeavor to be.

But a word more reflective of the church is communion. A communion is a group of people who come together around a shared loss. A shared experience of lack in their various lived experiences. Every time we celebrate this meal, we celebrate together. And in our celebration we remember Jesus’ death. We share in remembrance, in mystery, in the experience of something common yet unique, something we cannot explain that shapes us. I think, today, this word might better reflect what we strive to be in the world. In this moment of intense difference, where we accentuate that which sets us apart from the “other,” instead of what binds us together; communion invites us into a unity of purpose, a unity of full experience, centered around a shared sense of loss. This loss is more prescient for us today, given all we’ve been through together these past few years. And perhaps communion may be more valuable to our connections with others, to growth in relationships (which is the core nature of our shared faith), than developing community. Maybe we develop communions.

One of the distinctives of our life together in the United Church of Christ is our commitment to unity over conformity. We each interpret the Scriptures and relate to our faith through our lived experiences. We embrace diversity in opinion and unity in purpose. This is counter-cultural. It stands against what we see happening in the world around us. And it reflects our shared communion. That we together worship a God who came and walked among us. Who experienced life as we do, in both joy and sorrow. A God in Jesus Christ who invited us to love our neighbors as ourselves because there is no “other,” only diversity in experience. We are united through that diversity in experience. Through our joys and griefs, known by all of us, we can break bread together.

And I’m convinced people are looking for communities shaped like that. Communities of communion. Where unity is more important than conformity. Where all can be one. May it be so for us.



Navigating Violence and Money – Upcoming Webinars

Navigating violence and money…two topics that can be challenging to think about, much less discuss as a church. 

But good stewardship calls us to be mindful of protecting and supporting our ministry and our greatest resources—our people and the servants who lead us. 

Please join Pastor Carla as she attends two important webinars to help prepare us for a strong and confident future as a church!!”

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Webinar Invite


The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) invites you to join a two-hour security webinar to enhance awareness of and response to an active shooter event.

Preparing for a potential active shooter incident is an integral component of an organization’s incident response planning. Because active shooter incidents are unpredictable and evolve quickly, preparing for and knowing what to do in an active shooter situation can be the difference between life and death. Every second counts.

Active Shooter Webinar Invite

Register for Tuesday, Sept. 20th Webinar at 3:00pm

Register for Tuesday, September 27th Webinar at 10:00am

Stewardship Webinar

SEPTEMBER 28, 2022

Narrative Budgets: Telling your Story by the Numbers

A narrative budget translates the line items of a traditional budget into a story of how your congregation makes a difference in the world. It can be a helpful tool for a stewardship campaign or annual meeting. By telling the story of our congregations’ impact, we can inspire generosity in our donors.

Click Here to Register

Becoming an Open and Affirming Conference

I have been a faith-based activist for queer inclusion for a long time. Periodically when some gains are made for inclusion, activism slows, interest lags, and some decide that queer inclusion is total and complete. This happened with marriage equality, which was a wonderful moment but not the end of the need for activism. It has also happened with similar decisions, such as when a church becomes officially Open And Affirming.

For these inclusion “wins” there is certainly a time for joyful celebration and a well-earned rest. After a sabbath of this sort, it’s time to think about what’s next.

In the South Central Conference, an overwhelming majority of SCC congregations (72%) are designated as ONA. This makes my heart and spirit sing, especially at a time like this when right-wing organizations are strategizing to disrupt Pride events and queer lives. And not just disrupt, but some of the organizations are known to be violent. Hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills and policies have been introduced all across the United States. These include trans-phobic intent against our youth and young people, as well as the families who support and love them.

At our SCC Annual Meeting I held a workshop about the Conference becoming Open And Affirming. Those in attendance were interested in moving forward with this designation.

The goal of the SCC being ONA is to publicly and undeniably affirm and celebrate all families and folks — not in spite of who they are but because we are delighted in the diversity of God. It is everyone’s loss when others are marginalized, bullied, and worse.

I believe that the South Central Conference is already ONA. It’s time to stand up for who we are and declare it proudly. This will send a message to our youth and young people who are wondering if the church is on their side. This will let incoming ministers know that they can come to the SCC without having to filter their open and affirming theology or their inclusive and loving theology.

In the next year we want to talk about what it means to be ONA as a conference. We want to talk through any concerns. We also want to lift up the need that LGBTQ+ people have for organizations like ours to stand up and speak out.

Remember, though, for the SCC to become ONA doesn’t mean we will have arrived and be done with the work. It means that we have set ourselves in a position to walk and talk the teachings of Jesus — good news for those hearing bad news, standing in solidarity with those who are being pushed to the sides, freeing prisoners, and speaking truth to power. That’s what ministry is all about.

There are three ways you can help:
  1. You can join the team working on this project by clicking here and filling out the contact form.
  2. We are looking for videos from people sharing why being ONA has been life-giving and hope-building for them. And why you believe the Conference being ONA is important. Share your story with us.
  3. You can help us spread the word about this project. Talk about it at church. Share the video testimonials, as they become available, on social media. Pass around the articles and education materials we will offer as the year progresses. Organize conversations in your churches and associations.

Let’s do this important work together.

Rev. Mak Kneebone
Plymouth United Church, Spring, TX
Open and Affirming Coalition: Leadership Team and Past President

You’re Invited: Just Peace in a Southern Context – August 27th

The Florida Conference of the UCC, in cooperation with the Southern, Southeast and South Central Conferences along with Justice and Local Church Ministries, invites you to join us for “Just Peace in a Southern Context” on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This virtual event will offer a historical overview, theological grounding, and current examples of why being a Just Peace Church matters today. Guest Speakers will include Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, Rev. Geoffrey Black, Sandra Sorensen, and others. The UCC Washington Office and members of the UCC Just Peace Network will share examples of how together we can bring hope for a more just and peaceful tomorrow.

There is no cost to attend the event. However, registration is required. Please register here.

SCC News and e-News

Catch up with news from around the South Central Conference! Please see the most recent eNews weekly update below!

There is a glitch. If the newsletter is not displaying correctly below, please view the newsletter at: https://conta.cc/3Mz18G5 until it can be resolved.

SCC e-News
eNews weekly update
June 9, 2022 | Issue 23
Clergy Café
June 15, 2022 @ 9:30 AM

Retired Clergy Zoom Gathering
June 30, 2022 @ 3:00 PM
North Texas Association Fall Meeting
October 22, 2022 @ 10:00am
(First Congregational – Ft. Worth)

2022 Southern Regional Women’s Retreat
October 14-16, 2022 (Live Oak, FL)
Conference Minister Connections
Schedule Rev. Hodson to Preach
Phil will bring the message, host a Q&A discussion with your congregation after worship, and meet with your leadership.
Conference Minister 1:1 Chats
Schedule a conversation via Zoom with Rev. Hodson at a time that fits your life. Phil looks forward to chatting with you!
Clergy Café resumes Wednesday, June 15th @ 9:30 AM

News from Around the Conference
When we say, “everyone welcome, seriously everyone,” we mean it. This year, Slumber Falls and New Church have come together to craft a junior & senior high experience that is a safe, brave space for all youth to deepen their faith in an open & affirming community!

Summer Camp Registration is now open for all summer camp sessions at Slumber Falls Camp.

Early-Bird Registration discount ends April 1st. Take advantage of the savings and get connected to one of our great experiences now!

Loving Leadership
Pastor Mak Kneebone is at the helm of a queer-affirming congregation in Spring, TX.

Growing up Roman Catholic and being assigned female at birth, one won’t find many role models for becoming a clergyperson. The path towards a vocation in a pulpit can be, shall we say, not straight.

But that’s where the story of Mak Kneebone, pastor of Plymouth United Church in Spring begins. Growing up in Michigan, first in Detroit and then in more rural areas, he knew he didn’t fit in, but didn’t have the language to explain it. In college, he used the label “lesbian” to describe himself for a while, and found a community, but he still felt out of step. There were few resources for dealing with what he was feeling. “Saying I’m not actually a woman’ didn’t get met with great applause,” Kneebone admits. Text Link
Having a strong religious impulse and finding so little support for his queerness in the early 1980s, Kneebone switched religious traditions. “I went into the Pentecostal church, where I became ashamed of everything about myself and became an ‘ex-gay'”, he says. For ten years, he was involved in that tradition, teaching and leading small groups. It was not a sustainable situation. “I couldn’t imagine it; I couldn’t pretend anymore,” he says. “I knew I needed to explore and discover how God actually made me.”
He came out again, and found himself shunned by the community he’d served all those years. He left with a new conviction. “I decided I knew two things. I knew I wasn’t heteronormative, and I knew that God loved me.” He just had to figure out how those things worked together.
Kneebone had a close friend in Chicago who he trusted, so he moved there to begin really addressing his gender identity. He found a therapist there who listened to him and agreed that he was not a woman and also that he had a calling to ministry. “That was really profoundly moving to me that somebody else could reflect back to me something that I knew about myself,” he says. 

We celebrate with the Open Arms community the graduation of the Rev. Dr. Jules Williams from Eden Seminary!
Pictured from left to right is Rev. Dr. Jules Williams, Jr.; Margaret Smith and Pam Mayo, members of Open Arms UCC; Kim Williams; Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister of Justice and Local Ministries of the United Church of Christ.
Meet Rev. Dr. Jules Williams, Jr.

On May 20, 2022, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, conferred the degree of Doctor of Ministry on Rev. Jules Williams, Jr., Pastor of Open Arms United Church of Christ in Conroe, TX (Tamina Community). Rev. Williams, who earned his pre-doctoral degrees at the College of Biblical Studies and Dallas Theological Seminary, has pastored Open Arms, a new church in the area, for two years. In efforts to lead his congregation to follow the way Jesus intended, Jules models one who strives for justice and equality, for inclusion, for service, for love of all. In addition to his church duties, Rev. Williams works for the Texas Department of Corrections in the Windham School District as educator and counselor. Jules cherishes his family: his wife, Kim; daughter, Nia; and sons, Jules III and Mustapha. Incidentally, all three of his children are talented musicians, Nia having just completed her degree in Music at Sam Houston State University; and all contribute their talents to Open Arms worship. The Open Arms congregation congratulates Pastor Williams on his achievement and cherishes his leadership.
Your Invited! Pastor Leslie Jackson’s Anniversary Celebration – June 26th
Please join St. Peter United in celebrating the anniversary of Pastor Leslie Jackson on Sunday, June 26th at 4:00pm at the church located at 9022 Long Point Road in Houston.

Central St. Matthew’s Celebrates Pride Month
If you drive pass Central St. Matthew UCC in New Orleans in the month of June, you will see that their Pride Flags are displayed front and center at the entrance of the church.

These beautiful flags represent Central St. Matthew’s open support and welcoming of the LGBTQ community.
2022 UCC Southern Regional Women’s Retreat
October 14-16-2022
Greetings to the UCC Women of the Florida, South Central, Southeast, and Southern Conferences!!
Have you ever attended one of the Southern Regional UCC Women’s Retreats? If you have, I expect you will be coming to Camp Weed and Cerveny Conference Center in Live Oak, Florida October 14-16, 2022. You value the inspiration, camaraderie, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones, learning new skills, and listening to God in a natural setting.
If you have never been to our retreats, you are in for a treat! We are meeting in the same beautiful northern Florida setting on a small lake where we met in 2013. It has a lovely chapel looking out on the water, nice two-bed rooms with private baths, an inspiring outdoor patio area with rocking chairs overlooking the lake, a large dining room with great food, and trails through the woods. A perfect spot to retreat from our everyday lives. 

Key Church Leaders Update Request
As part of our ongoing effort to increase communication and share resources across the Conference, we’re inviting all congregations to update their key church leaders’ information annually.

Please take just a few minutes to share with us your leadership team information so that we can make sure everyone is “in the know” about what’s happening across the Conference.

So far, we have only received five responses. This information is extremely important. Please take a few moments to complete this form. It assists the Conference office in updating the UCC National Data Hub Church Staff tab and keeping the SCC Directory current. Thank you!!
Career & Continuing Education Opportunities

During Pride month, three of our most popular webinars are on sale. For just $35, an unlimited number of members of your church can participate from their own computers or devices. ONA 101 and ONA and the Bible are for congregations taking their first steps towards, or just curious about, an Open and Affirming Covenant. Bending Gender is for both ONA and not-yet ONA churches: with transgender and nonbinary Americans under attack in many states, it’s time for congregations to understand how to welcome trans and nonbinary seekers into their congregations. 

Tuesday, June 21, 7 pm EDT

This webinar explores how and why congregations can become ONA—in ways that do not divide, but unite the church. Applying the basic ONA principles of “graceful engagement” and “covenant,” ONA 101 has helped hundreds of congregations successfully navigate through an ONA process. 
United Campus Ministries of Greater Houston is seeking an outstanding candidate for the part-time position of Executive Director to begin as soon as practical.

Executive Director / 30 hours per week – $45-48K (benefits included)

Review the entire posting here.
Pathways Theological Education is proud to offer the following courses beginning June 28 – July 4, 2022.

  • Living the Heart of Progressive Christian Theology
  • Preaching for Special Occasions
  • Congregational Ministry and the Future Church
Conference Resources
Bookkeeping Services Now Available
Quality bookkeeping services that are built around the needs of your local church. The Conference now has this resource available to you!

Learn more about what we can offer your congregation!

Resources from Our Covenant Partners
Sometimes you need to ask the difficult question. Deep down inside, you may already know the answer. But it’s not until you actually take the time to assess and realistically address the situation that you decide to act on the solution. While this scenario applies to a variety of issues in life, the topic at hand is the condition of your church property.

Is your congregation considering making improvements on your building to expand ministry or increase revenue? Is it finally addressing deferred maintenance items that worsen every year? Are you ready to reduce your building’s carbon footprint and save money on utilities in the process? Can you enhance digital capabilities to maintain and grow your online community?

If any of these questions apply to you, then now is a good time to talk with the Cornerstone Fund about low-cost loan options that will directly improve your facility and potentially strengthen your congregation.
Clergy Clinic 2022-2023 Registration Now Open
Registration is now open for our Clergy Clinic 2022-2023, both Group A & Group B. 
We invite you to dig deeper into those “mediation skills” concepts and strategies that you learned in MSTI and join us for this outstanding training event! 

We hope you will clear your calendars now for either Group A (Oct. 24-26, 2022; Feb. 13-15, 2023; and April 24-26, 2-23) OR Group B (Nov. 7-9, 2022; Feb. 27-March 1, 2023; and May 15-17, 2023).

If you would like to attend any of the training events, the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center does offer a limited number of partial scholarships. Scholarship Form

Stewardship Webinars
Our friends in the Wisconsin Conference have created a series of online stewardship courses to help congregations consider these concerns, and we encourage you to check them out! Each opportunity has a unique registration button so that you can select those most relevant to your local church. These are offered at no cost, and we hope you’ll be able to participate!

New Materials Available for Stewardship
“From Bread and Cup to Faith and Giving” makes the connection between our experience of God and our generosity as disciples. It includes practical tools such as logos, commitment cards, bulletin inserts, and letters. The materials also provide resources for preaching about stewardship throughout the year. Campaign guidance and calendars help leaders make the best use of these robust materials for their specific content and size.
Your Gift Matters
You can make a difference as a
Friend of the Conference!

SCC Conference At A Glance

Houston Association Spring Meeting
May 7, 2022 @ 8:30 – Noon
(Morning Coffee & Light Lunch will be served – Bering Church in Houston)

Clergy Café
May 11, 2022 @ 9:30 AM
Join Meeting

Retired Clergy Zoom Gathering
May 26, 2022 @ 3:00 PM
Join Meeting

SCC Annual Meeting
(See Registration Walk-through video below)
May 27- 29, 2022
(Camp Allen)

North Texas Association Fall Meeting
October 22, 2022 @ 10:00am
(First Congregational – Ft. Worth)

2022 Southern Regional Women’s Retreat
October 14-16, 2022
(Live Oak, FL)


Even if you have already registered for the Annual Meeting, please watch the video below as you may need to go back and register for additional add-ons.

As always, please remember if you would like assistance with registering you can call Stacey at the Conference office. She can register you and input your payment information while you are on the phone.

The office number is 830-625-2212 and Stacey is at extension 1.




Sign up for the South Central Conference E-News directly at https://sccucc.org/newsletter-signup/!

UCC Earth Week Event: The Faith of Prophets—Lessons for the Climate Crisis

Prophets are needed as much as ever now as our world confronts the climate crisis. Yet, we can no longer wait for others to be the prophets that were needed yesterday. We have to find the prophet in each of us. To answer the urgent call for action today, this special online Earth Week event will focus on what the Hebrew Prophets can teach us as well as what prophetic actions are currently being taken.

If you can’t make the scheduled time on Saturday, April 23rd, at 10:30 am sign-up, and we will send you a recording.


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