Tag: South Central Conference

April 14th UCC Webinar—What’s Fair?: The U.S. and Responsibility for the Climate Crisis

Historically, the United States has released more global warming pollution than any other country, and it remains the world’s second highest emitter. With its immense wealth and power, what are the moral obligations of the U.S. in confronting the climate crisis? In short, what’s fair? Three leaders in the effort to address this question will present in this webinar: Sivan Kartha from the Stockholm Environment Institute, Jean Su from the Center for Biological Diversity, and Susannah Tuttle from North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light. Even if you can’t make the webinar’s scheduled time on Wednesday, April 14th, at 1 pm ET, still sign-up, and we will send you a recording of it.

Sign-up now for the webinar!

From SCC Weekly e-News Submitted by Rev. Brooks Berndt, Minister for Environmental Justice

The Cries of this World

I have written this article before. I have written this article a number of times before. Every time there is another incident of gun violence, I sit down to write this same article again. It is not the article you think it may be, about the need for our prayers for family members and friends who are devastated by the violence robbing them of loved ones. Though those prayers are needed. It is not the article where I call for us to comfort one another in the face of yet more casualties of gun violence. Though comforting is necessary. No, this is the article that asks, “When will we move beyond simply offering prayers and actually do something about the violence that runs rampant in our culture? When will the Christian church that follows the Prince of Peace, actually do something, say something that will make a difference in countering the violence so that we don’t have to pray for the families of the victims anymore?”

In this article that I have written before, the names of the cities are all that is different. Atlanta and Boulder now enter the lexicon of sites that have experienced deaths by gun violence. These names are added to the other names that just by mere mention call to mind tragic episodes of gun violence: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Charleston to name just a few. However, there are hundreds of other places that only make the news for a split second that are reeling from their own encounters with gun violence. Small towns, large cities, churches, synagogues, mosques, family reunions, random street corners – all have been places where loved ones, family and friends are gunned down and the call for prayers ascends yet again.

Is there a unique role for Christians to counter gun violence? Those of us who seek to follow a Savior who himself was a victim of violence, what is it that we are called to do? At the risk of grossly oversimplifying the problem (and possible solutions), I humbly offer a few possibilities for our consideration

  • Hate appears to be a large factor in gun violence, where the shooting outwardly manifests an inner hate against someone else. We must counter this hate with a renewed focus on love for all people.
  • Young white males seem to be the majority of the perpetrators of gun violence. Can the church create or participate in programs that teach tolerance, understanding and acceptance for young males? Mentoring, Big Brothers, youth groups, scouting – at their best – offer some hope.
  • Isolation and individualism create a climate for gun violence. People may become more prone to seeking resolution by violence if left to their own devices. The church is all about building community, building relationships, resolving conflict, and encouraging transformation. What are some ways that your church can further build community and be a mediating presence – not just for members, but for all people?
  • Many of those who are prone to gun violence, like the rest of the population, have experienced mental health challenges. The Mental Health Network of the United Church of Christ has a great program that seeks to remove the stigma mental health problems often create, and truly welcome all to seek wholeness and wellness within a supportive and loving community. Can your congregation become a WISE congregation? Check out this toolkit: https://www.mhn-ucc.org/wise-congregation-toolkit/

I know that I will have to write this article again. I know that we will hear more calls for prayer and few calls for action. But I continue to hope that maybe this time will be different. I continue to hope that maybe our churches can be part of the answer – like that the prayer in the Book of Worship where we pray that “we might be a part of God’s answers to the cries of this world.” This time, may it be so.

With you on the journey,
Campbell Lovett
Interim Conference Minister
South Central Conference, United Church of Christ

From SCC Weekly e-News Submitted by Campbell Lovett, SCC Interim Conference Minister

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Southern Methodist University to host Zoom Webinar April 8, 2021

Southern Methodist University will host a Zoom Webinar with special guest, Ms. Bree Newsome. This event is free and open to the public. You may remember Ms. Newsome as the young woman who scaled a flagpole to remove the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina capitol after the Mother Emmanuel Church shooting in Charleston. Her address will be titled, “Tearing Hate from the Sky.” In the wake of recent gun violence against the Asian American community in Atlanta and the supermarket shootings in Boulder, this title seems sadly appropriate. Please see the attached brochure for more information.

Zoom Webinar Registration is at: https://bit.ly/3vGq6we

From SCC Weekly e-News Submitted by Rev. Ray Jordan

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Zoom Meet-and-Greets with the Final Conference Minister Candidate and Special Meeting of the Conference

Dear Siblings in Christ,

With the final candidate for the Conference Minister position being brought forward by the by the CM Search Committee, and the SCC Board of Directors voting to affirm the Search Committee’s recommendation, we are pleased to invite you to the following:

Presentation of Rev. Phil Hodson to the Conference for a vote at a special meeting of the Conference on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 10 am via Zoom. This communication serves as official notice to the Conference as outlined in the SCC Constitution (Article V Section 1) and Bylaws (Article 11 Sections 1 and 2). The only agenda item will be for Conference members to vote on the Conference Minister candidate, Rev. Phil Hodson.  

**Please be sure to share with Conference members (authorized ministers and lay leaders from your churches) so that we can ensure that a quorum is present on April 17th for the Conference vote**

Rev. Hodson has provided an introduction statement for the Conference so you can begin to learn more about him. Additionally, four meet-and-greets have been scheduled to allow the Conference to get to know Rev. Hodson before the vote on April 17th. The first meeting was held last night.

We encourage you to be present on one of the meetings (or all) listed below. The Zoom link is the same for all of the meet-and-greets and you can contact the Conference office if you need more information. They will also be recorded if you are unable to attend any session.

  • Sunday, March 28th at 2 – 3 pm
  • Wednesday, April 7th at 7 – 8 pm 
  • Saturday, April 10th at 10 – 11 am

The purpose of the meet-and-greets is for Rev. Hodson to introduce himself, say a bit about his faith journey and share why he’s excited to serve as the SCC Conference Minister. If present, members of the Search Committee can also share why they felt called to name Rev. Hodson as the final candidate. 

Speaking of the Conference Minister Search Committee, please be sure to thank members of this committee:

Rev. Vanessa Monroe (chair)
Debra Joseph (VP of the BOD)
Rev. Joshua Lawrence
Rev. Neil Thomas 
Marilyn Reyes
Cesar Baptista
Arlene Turner
Rev. Jacqueline Lamensky
Bessie Griffin

They went above and beyond in their duties as part of this committee including conducting a mock interview to prepare, interviewing lots of candidates in first round interviews, and going on to more in depth interviews with four candidates before reaching a unanimous consensus. I have heard nothing but praises from Rev. Lee Albertson, who helped guide this team and from Rev. Hodson himself. They were organized, prepared and dedicated — asking hard questions and listening for God’s call. I look forward to celebrating them with the entire Conference soon. 

If Rev. Hodson is affirmed as the SCC Conference Minister at the April 17th meeting, he will begin in this role around July 15th. This means that we will be transitioning to saying good-bye to our Interim Conference Minister, Rev. Campbell Lovett. Rev. Lovett will be around to help with this transition. We continue to be extremely grateful for Rev. Lovett and his leadership over the past year. 

That is all that I have for now, but I look forward to seeing you all at the meet-and-greets and the called special meeting of the Conference on April 17th. I am really excited about the future of the South Central Conference and a little sad to be rolling off as President in June. 

Peace and blessings,
Rev. Nikki Stahl

From SCC Weekly e-News Submitted by Rev. Nikki Stahl

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Letter from the Rev. Cambell Lovett, Consulting Conference Minister

Dear Friends In Christ,     Sometimes I think that the Apostle Paul was a Conference Minister!  He traveled – a lot, spent time writing letters, prayed for his many congregations, thanked people for contributing to the “needs of the saints” and extending hospitality, and encouraged churches in their ministries in challenging times.  I will follow his lead in this letter.

I’ll begin with words of thanks.  Thank you for your ministry and leadership during this time of global pandemic.  In the midst of increased isolation, people are seeking connection to a higher power and one another.  Our South Central Conference (SCC) churches are responding to these needs and serving with grace, compassion and courage.  Thank you for being a powerful presence of hope in your community.  Thank you also for sharing donations with the wider church.  Your offerings to Our Churches Wider Mission have helped make a difference in the life of many clergy and congregations in the SCC, and also across the United Church of Christ. Thank you!

As for prayers and encouragement, here are a few updates:

  • At every staff meeting, we pray for five different SCC churches and three National Setting staff members.  We passionately feel that we are all in this together and so we spend time in prayer for each church, each authorized minister, and then ask God’s blessings upon the unique ministry and mission in each church community.
  • A number of our SCC churches are in seasons of pastoral transition.  The Conference has established a Search and Call Team that is a resource to churches that are saying farewell to pastors and searching for new settled ministers.  The conference has a variety of resources and focuses on shepherding each congregation through the search process. 
  • The Conference has received a grant from the United Church Funds for establishing a series of clergy support seminars.  In August, September and October, national leaders in clergy wellness, stewardship, visioning and online worship will be meeting online with our pastors to offer encouragement, support and new resources.
  • Slumber Falls Camp completed a modified camp season within the guidelines suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Camp Association.  This was a very difficult decision to open the camp for these sessions, but our camp leaders felt the mental health of our young people would benefit from this opportunity to experience God’s presence in nature, spiritual exercises, and one another.
  • The Executive Committee of the Board has met to consider how to reduce budget expenses to match a forecasted decline in giving.  We are also working hard to identify additional revenue streams, and we remain committed to supporting the UCC National Setting at the financial level approved in the 2020 Conference Budget.

I want to thank you for helping to make all of this possible with your donations to OCWM.  I know that you have many financial challenges of your own in your congregation.  Like Paul, I am thankful for your sharing of the gospel and for your partnership with other churches in the UCC.  With your ongoing support we are sure that we can serve local churches more fully and more faithfully.

     If you have particular concerns or needs, please do not hesitate to contact me at campbell@sccucc.org or via telephone.  Together, we are making a difference. 

With you on the journey,   Campbell Lovett

South Central Conference Annual Meeting

The South Central Conference will be holding its annual meeting on Saturday, June 13th.   Originally it was going to be held in Houston but because of the covid 19 virus it was decided to hold it via zoom.  The deadline to register was this past Friday, June 5, unless they extend it.

Along with the usual voting on nominees for conference positions, voting on the budge, etc. a vote will be held on by law amendments. 

The Conference is not collecting Back Bay Mission Hygiene kits this year.  If you wish to make a donation to their Hygiene Kit fund please use this link:
https://thebackbaymission.org/give/#give-now

If you wish to donate to the South Central Conference, please use this link: https://sccucc.org/donate/

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