Ryan Gackenheimer reflects on the Scripture, calling us all to be one, that is the cornerstone of the United Church of Christ. Also, an important announcement about this podcast from Tiffany Vail. This week's host: Kevin Williams, Pastor of the South Killingly Congregational Church.
Emily Hale reminds us that our voice - and our vote - matters. We hear a preview of Annual Meeting, and about other upcoming events. This week's host: The Rev. Mia Douglas. Director of Discipleship at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford.
In recognition of Earth Day, Tiffany Vail speaks about caring for the planet as an expression of love for one another. In news, Conference Minister Kent Siladi says of the UCC "This is our time." This week's host: Brian Lapis.
Debby Kirk reminds us that we are all shepherds, stewards of creation whose task it is to bring God's vision to reality. We hear voices from the Amistad Remembrance, including a call on churches to be silent no more. This week's host: The Rev. Jocelyn Gardner Spencer, Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Woodstock, UCC.
Cecile Gilson reflects on Saul's transformation, and times in her life when she has seen a light, be it large or small. We also here about Conference Minister Kent J. Siladi's testimony this week regarding state budget cuts, and about upcoming events. This week's host: Kevin Williams, pastor of the South Killingly Congregational Church.
The Rev. Tamara Moreland reflects on the story of Thomas, and about how we have all had moments when we demanded proof. We also hear from the Youth Music Fest held recently at the First Congregational Church of Darien. This week's host: The Rev. Mia Douglas, Director of Discipleship of the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Ciba assures everyone, particularly pastors, that God will not abandon them during Holy Week. In the news, UCC and Episcopal leaders join together to denounce the divisive rhetoric which permeates the current Presidential campaigns. This week's host: Brian Lapis, a member of the board of directors of the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ and of the Board of Directors of the Silver Lake Conference Center.
Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer reflects on the Palm Sunday story of Jesus sending a disciple to take from its owner a colt that had never been ridden. In the news, Conference Minister the Rev. Kent Siladi asks at Super Saturday if we are at a "burning bush" moment. This week's host: The Rev. Jocelyn Gardner Spencer, Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Woodstock, UCC.
Eric Anderson reflects - not so gently - on the urgency of God's new creations. Hartford churches join together for Lenten programs, the Conference renews its opposition to expanded casino gambling, and both Silver Lake and the Joseph Clemmons Job Training Program are getting ready for summer. And we get to meet Tiffany Vail, the new Associate Conference Minister for Communications for southern New England's three UCC conferences.
The Israelites paused before entering the Promised Land, notes Michelle Hughes. They needed to heal from the wounds of slavery in Egypt. What, she asks do we need to heal from? How long before we hear God announce, "I have rolled away from you the shame of America"? In 24 hours, a Hartford church makes preparations to meet the needs of some of the city's homeless, when they were asked to become an emergency warming shelter. Another divests from assault weapon manufacturers, and we meet the Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer, the new Executive Director at Silver Lake Conference Center.
Unless we change our hearts and minds, says Karen Ziel, we risk everything. A better society starts with each one of us. Speakers, including Connecticut's Commissioner of Corrections, urge a forgiving society that welcomes the former inmate home. Vantage Point takes on the question of a third casino - and the Conference offers tribute to Eric Anderson with music and with laughter.
God gave Abram the promise of a child and a homeland - promises, Tom Clough observes, that come with both joy and trouble. Christ's summons, he says, is to live life as created by God with both reward and trial. "Let us not be naive, and let us not be afraid." The three UCC conferences of Southern New England have come together to call Tiffany Vail as Associate Conference Minister for Communications, and Kent Siladi interviews the outgoing Eric Anderson in the latest Vantage Point.
Do we really need to repent again? asks Charlie Kuchenbrod. It gets repeated often in Scripture, and it comes around each year for Ash Wednesday and Lent. But it helps us put God at the center of things, rather than ourselves; it helps us understand that we have not earned our blessings. At Silver Lake, the design of the reconstructed Lodge will reduce overall energy use by up to 70%. Last weekend, over ninety participated in retreats at the outdoor ministry center in Sharon, hearing for the first time the welcome of new Executive Director Ryan Gackenheimer. In Hartford, three churches along have raised over $5,000 to aid residents of Flint, MIchigan.
In this snow-delayed edition, Rev. Mary Nelson considers how Jesus' transfiguration transformed his life and the course of his ministry. He was utterly the same, yet utterly changed. What might that be like for us? Two Hartford pastors describe the situation in Flint, with its roots of injustice to the poor and to people of color, while in Norfolk members and friends learn about food deserts. The Connecticut Conference will be active in advocating for the marginalized during this legislative session, and we have an intern this spring to help us do it!
Imagine a new perspective, says the Rev. Kent Siladi, a new view on a life that is frequently a mess. For the Psalmist, the new perspective was in memory: memory that God's love does not abandon us and that God's presence is reliable. Hartford pastors the Rev. Stephen Camp and the Rev. Kari Nicewander are in Flint, visiting colleagues and learning how we in southern New England can effectively aid. A Vantage Point conversation poses the challenge of creating a post-racist society. We extend two invitations: to learn at Super Saturday on March 12th, and to imagine what a transformative church will look like in ten years.
In the recent United Nations agreement on climate change, Pam Arifian does not find a true solution to the threat posed by human-triggered climate change, but she does hear the drumbeat of change. Worshipers in Hartford find themselves challenged once again to attain the goals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and partially as a result, the Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut Conferences have pledged to support the people of Flint, Michigan, whose water supply is tainted by lead and other toxins. UCCs unite in service with people of several faiths in a Muslim-led outreach to the hungry, and Super Saturday is coming!
Day McCallister, preparing for a significant life transition as a colleague prepares to depart for new ministries, offers both an appreciation of him and a challenge for everyone: "Who else will speak into the deafening silence of indifference?" she asks. When will the blood of the oppressed be precious in everyone's sight? Young adults of the Conference took a trip to another state and another state of life on Sunday, as they volunteered and worshiped with Cathedral in the Night in Northampton, Massachusetts. The Conference has released its 2015 Ministries of the Connecticut Conference summary, and registration for summer conferences at Silver Lake is open!
We'd like the start the new year afresh, says Emily Hale, but things don't always work out that way. Some are crossing a river; some are walking through fire. She assures us with Isaiah's words that God is always with us, and urges us to share New Year's joy with those who need it. In Middletown, two churches expand their collaboration, even exchanging keys between the two pastors. The United Church of Christ in Devon launches sign language interpretation of worship for the deaf, and the Conference announces the upcoming departure of podcast host Eric Anderson in March.
Tamara Moreland offers the beautiful words of Dr. Maya Angelou this week (which you'll find in a YouTube video embedded on our website), and a blessing that the light of the world bring you joy, peace, and comfort. We repeat the reading of Luke's account of the nativity from last year's podcast, and Eric Anderson can't quite resist the podcast host's privilege to give us a surprise.
In the midst of sorrow and tragedy, racism and greed, it is hard to keep the faith, says Debby Kirk. These trials call us back to basic spiritual practices: care for our neighbor, non-violence, and prayer. "Through prayer, we are in partnership with God to realize a new vision of justice." In Danielson, the Victorian Christmas Feast and Service at Westfield Congregational Church UCC have become a valued tradition, and in Rowayton, hand-crafted costumes now adorn the Three Wise Men. And later today: greetings via video from the Conference staff!