REMINDER: This is our June/July issue of the Innovation Now! newsletter. The next issue will not be released until August. We wish our subscribers a restful and renewing summer ahead. 


  • Program Year in Review: Looking Back on the Center for Transformational Leadership's First Year of Programming (4 Minute Read)
  • Building a Legacy - Learning, Discerning, and Leaning In: Second in a Series of Blogs by Legacy Church Specialist Charlie Kuchenbrod (3 Minute Read)


  • Lunch & Learn for Leaders - Conflict & Community: June 16th from 12:00-1:00 PM (REGISTER)
  • Noteworthy Offerings:
    • The Pandemic's Impact on Churches - What the Data Show Thus Far: June 27th from 7:00-8:30 PM (REGISTER)
    • 2022 Justice Summit: September 24th from 9:00-4:30 (LEARN MORE)
    • How to Recognize and Deal with Church Bullies: July 26th from 7:00-8:00 PM (REGISTER)
    • How Broad-Based Community Organizing Might Transform the Church: July 28th from 2:00-3:00 PM (REGISTER)
    • New Life for Old Church Buildings: September 20th from 2:00-3:00 PM (REGISTER)

Looking Back on the
Center for Transformational Leadership's First Year of Programming

Over the past year, the team at the Center for Transformational Leadership has been hard at work planning for and facilitating a range of events and services to support the leadership and development of churches throughout the Southern New England Conference. Below, we provide a "highlight" reel of our programming from our first completed program year. 

  • Conflict Transformation: Held on November 6th of 2021, this 7-hour workshop, presented by Lombard Mennonite Peace Center offered participants the opportunity to learn conflict management skills, beginning with conflict prevention. Participants also investigated how church conflict can be transformed into an opportunity to learn something new about God's will for their church. A total of 43 participants registered for this session, with 23 joining from Massachusetts, 18 joining from Connecticut, and 2 joining from Rhode Island. 
  • A Season of Jubilee - An Affinity Group for Nearly and Newly Retired Clergy of the SNEUCC: Aimed at supporting clergy who are in a period of transition into retirement, this group launched in September of 2021, bringing together 11 individuals (6 from Massachusetts and 5 from Connecticut). Sessions were scheduled at 6-8 week intervals and touched on such topics as financial planning, emotional coping and resilience, engaging in ministry with boundaries, and maintaining health. The sessions to date have featured over 9 guest presenters, including Mr. Bruce Epperly, Ms. Andree Grafstein, Ms. Lisa Hudkins, Ms. Deborah Ringen, Rev. Donna Manocchio, Rev. Tara Barber, Rev. Elizabeth Dilley, Rev. Dr. Tracy Mehr-Muska, Rev. Dr. Jonathan B. Lee and Mr. Travis Marks. The Center for Transformational Leadership thanks the Pension Boards for co-sponsoring this program to support retirees. 
  • Small Church Summit: Small churches often share unique characteristics that strengthen and challenge their ministry and mission impact. We heard the voices of small churches in our conference and organized the first Small Church Summit. Held on February 26th, 2021, this day-long summit began with a Keynote from Rev. Dr. Liz Magill, with participants then breaking off into workshop sessions hosted by Rev. Jeff MacDonald, Rev. Deborah Rundlett, Rev. Dr. Cheryl Caronna, Rev. Dr. Liz Magill, and Mrs. Bridget Johnson. Workshop sessions focused on issues relevant to small churches, including such topics as Design to Thrive and Using Your Building for Financial Stability.

    A total of 87 individuals registered for this event, representing 21 churches in Connecticut, 21 churches in Massachusetts, and 2 churches in Rhode Island. Authorized ministers and lay leaders attended, with lay leaders comprising roughly 50% of attendees! Positive feedback for this event included the following comments, "WOW! ... I am a tough person to please as far as trainings go [but] this Summit was perfect for me. The presenters were FABULOUS and having access to the slides is a great thing!" Said another: "So great to have something for smaller churches. Too often I have felt that our smaller churches are almost ignored."
  • We're Better Together, How and Why Our Covenants Work: Held on March 3, 2022 and facilitated by Rev. Dr. Ruth E. Shaver, participants examined what it means to be in covenant as Associations and as congregations within the larger conference. Participants included 16 lay people and 23 authorized ministers, representing 8 churches in Connecticut and 21 churches in Massachusetts. The session also attracted individuals outside our conference, with additional participants tuning in from such distant places as Maine, Virginia, and even California.   
  • Exploring the Benefits of Behavioral Covenants: Held on May 11, 2022 and facilitated by Rev. Tara Barber and Rev. Elizabeth Dilley, this 2.5-hour session provided an introduction to the concept and practice of behavioral covenants in the congregational setting and offered resources for church leadership to develop and implement their own covenants. Participants included 34 laity and 47 authorized ministers who represented 21 churches in Massachusetts and 12 churches in Connecticut. 
  • Lunch & Learn for Leaders: Launched in January of 2022, Lunch & Learn for Leaders sessions were offered on the third Thursday of every month for 1-hour lunch time segments. Sessions touched on such topics as Podcasting, Resilient Leadership in Anxious Times, Benefits of Interim Ministry, and Exploring Transformative Leadership in a Climate Changed World. Guest presenters included Rev. Dr. James H. Latimer, Rev. Elizabeth Dilley, Rev. Tara Barber, Rev. Barbara Lemmel, Mr. Aram Mitchell of the BTS Center, Rev. Eric Fistler, and Rev. Doug Bixby. To date, over 150 individuals have registered for Lunch & Learn sessions, representing 41 churches in Connecticut and 52 churches in Massachusetts.  

Learning, Discerning, and Leaning In 

Second in a Series of Blogs Focused on Church Legacy 

The Center for Transformational Leadership would like to introduce a new feature in our newsletter.  As you may know, in addition to leadership development, innovation conversations, small church support, etc., we are also called to encourage, resource, and accompany churches that are in a time of discernment. This can be especially helpful when that means discerning opportunities for renewal or the need for a completion of ministry. 

Author: Charlie Kuchenbrod, Legacy Church Specialist, is a consultant with the SNEUCC. Charlie is an expert on accompanying churches who are considering completing their ministry and building a legacy within their communities; he has recently created a blog series on the topic: Building A Legacy – Learning, Discerning and Leaning-In. To read the second installment of this blog series, CLICK HERE (3 MINUTE READ)


While our Lunch & Learn Sessions have wrapped up for this program year, please stay tuned for our August issue of Innovation Now! for information about the Fall 2022 series!



Monday, June 27th from 7:00-8:30 PM

This webinar will be led by Scott Thumma, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology of Religion and Director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, and guests. The webinar will report new findings from three recent surveys (from August 2021, December 2021 and March 2022) of 5000 churches about how they and their clergy are faring and the challenges and possibilities facing faith communities. It will provide an overview of a Lilly Endowment-funded research project led by Hartford Institute for Religion Research to track what the next five years will look like for faith communities, their leaders, and members with a particular emphasis on changes in attendance on the pastoral role and member engagement.

Learn More

2022 Justice Summit

September 24, 2022 at 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Join other SNEC members, authorized ministers, and partners at the 2022 Justice Summit, a one-day in-person gathering focused on devising strategies to confront racial inequity in local congregations and communities. 

The Justice Summit will include worship components, workshops, and a lunch time plenary discussion between 2022 SNEC Theologians in Virtual Residence Rev. Dr. Diane Schmitz and Bishop Yvette Flunder.

Morning workshops will center on current and emerging issues of racial justice identified as priorities by SNEC members and congregations. Attendees will bring together their knowledge and experience to work on a plan for addressing each specific issue. Morning workshops also will include resource people who can share professional or other expertise with participants as needed and appropriate. Afternoon sessions will focus on sustaining the work. Lunch and coffee/tea are included. 


How to Recognize and Deal with Church Bullies - A PRC Webinar

Jul 26, 2022 @ 7:00 PM 

Have you ever wanted to be a David to someone else’s Goliath? What if you could deal with church bullies without ever slinging a stone? You can!

In the church, bullies can look spiritual. They also may be serving a very unique function in the life of the congregation. In many churches, there are individuals or groups who pose a rather unique challenge to the multiplying movement of God’s mission. While some of those persons are simply reacting with anxiety to changes implemented by leaders, others may have a more defined plan to sabotage any idea that does not originate with them. Still others may have an even more sinister plot in mind to undermine anything that is holy and mission focused. At any given time, but especially during seasons of transition, those persons or groups will exert their influence in order to challenge or thwart what God is birthing in the congregation. And they will use any tactics necessary to accomplish their goals.

Sharing insights from over thirty-four years of full-time pastoral ministry, as well as content from his newly released book, Mission Rift: Leading through Church Conflict, Dr. Woolverton will explore how to recognize, assess, and respond to church “bullies” and the closed power systems that they represent.

Presenter: David E. Woolverton has been a pastor for over 34 years -- serving churches facing turn-around ministry situations. He has a doctorate in Conflict Leadership and has had intensive clinical training in hospital chaplaincy. He is an affiliate professor at both Evangelical Theological Seminary, Myerstown, PA and Kairos University, Sioux Falls, SD. David is a sought-after workshop leader and church consultant in conflict leadership and transitions.


How Broad-Based Community Organizing Might Transform the Church - A PRC Webinar

Jul 28, 2022 @ 2:00 PM

Broad Based Community Organizing is essential for faith communities. Learn how this sacred practice can connect congregations to the local community and transform the church, the community, and the individual.

Presenters: Rev. Katrina Pekich-Bundy is the head minister of First Presbyterian Church of Alma, MI and the Associate Protestant Chaplain at Alma College.

Shani E. McIlwain is a sought-after speaker, pulpit supply preacher, retreat leader, Vice Moderator of National Capital Presbytery, and Ruling Elder at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Washington, DC. She serves on the NEXT Church strategy team, works as a group facilitator and an executive coach, leading individuals and groups in faithful and transparent conversations about dismantling racism and white supremacy. 

Chris Dela Cruz is the Associate Pastor of Youth, Young Adults, and Community Engagement at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portland, OR. His background includes newspaper journalism, youth and college ministry, and community organizing in New York City, where he organized with Queens Power (IAF). He is an adjunct professor with Warner Pacific University and on the strategy team of Next Church.


New Life for Old Church Buildings
- A PRC Webinar

Sep 20, 2022 @ 2:00 PM

This webinar is for those who are discerning whether their church building and property no longer meet the needs of their congregations or the limits of their bank accounts. We will discuss how to assess options for re-imagining and re-purposing empty space and ensuring that your building and property continue to serve the mission and vision of your congregation in your community.

Presenter: The Rev. Dr. Rochelle A. Stackhouse (Shelly) has served for 40 years as an ordained pastor at UCC congregations in 6 states, as well as teaching preaching, worship, and practical theology at several seminaries. She currently works as Senior Director of Programs at Partners for Sacred Places, a national non-profit dedicated to the sound stewardship and community use of older and historic sacred places.



We invite you to explore our website: The Center for Transformational Leadership - Southern New England Conference of the UCC ( There, you will find easy access to the resources you need to do the transformative work you and your congregations are called to do!

The Center for Transformational Leadership was created to equip clergy and lay leaders, congregations, and covenantal partners of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ with resources, tools, and support to do the transformative ministry they are called to do in the church, local community, and the world. To learn more, contact:

Interim Director – Rev. Heather Ramsey Mabrouk, 
Assistant Director – Karen Ziel,
Program Support Associate - Elisa Wilson 

As a participating leader in the Southern New England Conference, you have been added to the subscription list for this newsletter. If you would rather not receive it, or otherwise wish to change your email preferences, please visit:

The Center for Transformational Leadership is here to serve you!
Please contact us at   
Visit our website  
Sign up for our newsletter, Innovation Now