Because my spouse is an educator and we have a tween in middle school, my personal life is governed as much by the public school schedule as by the Christian liturgical calendar. I’ve come to appreciate what this rhythm provides me; while secular in origin, it’s full of sacred moments and meaning. This time of year has echoes for me of Advent and Lent, seasons of preparation and reflection. I use it as a time to reset my wellness practices; to clean out and reorder my schedule, my thoughts and yes, the kitchen drawers; to be more intentional about how I go about my days. What rhythms shape your life? What invitations await you in this new season?
At times, it can feel like I’m out of sync with my family in the fall. While I am eager to start new projects and think about the future, they are focused on their day-to-day realities. This happens to us pastors too, doesn’t it? While preachers want to use Advent as a time of self-reflection and waiting, many in the pews are in full on planning and partying and purchasing mode. While chaplains are seeing the light of Christ at every bedside in Epiphany, patients may be in the tomb of Holy Saturday. Of course, we are all professionals, and part of our role is to be present to those we serve. What helps you honor your own rhythms even as you honor the rhythms of those you serve?
In this season after Pentecost and back to school, in this season of too-early holiday decorations and Rally Sundays, in this season of Ordinary Time and increasing autumn colors, may the rhythm of God’s ruah be ever present and ever sustaining for you.
Rev. Liz Garrigan-Byerly
Executive Minister for Area Conference Ministry
New To The Conference Event - September 28, 2023, 10am-3pm in Framingham, MA
Are you an Authorized Minister who has moved to SNEUCC in the last 3 years? We want to connect with you and facilitate your connection with other colleagues. Please join us for fellowship, connection, resources & more! For more information or to register (by 9/14), click here.
Clergy Wellness Retreats - multiple dates and locations
The Southern New England Conference is excited to once again partner with the UCC Pension Boards to offer a series of six Clergy Wellness Retreats during the 2023-24 Program Year.
There will be one retreat per region, with the intent of helping ministers build local, supportive networks of clergy colleagues. However, clergy are welcome to choose the date and location that works best for them. Exact locations are forthcoming; registration will be live approximately six weeks before each event.
Our hope is that these retreats help strengthen the protective measures necessary to sustain wellness in self and in ministry. Come join us!
November 15th, Northwest Region April 3rd, South Central Region
December 2nd, Northeast Region April 24th, Southwest Region
March 4th, Southeast Region May 18th, North Central Region
Season of Jubilee Affinity Group - Registration deadline 9/20/23
For newly and nearly retired clergy leaders, this 7-session affinity group will gather and explore meaningful service in retirement, ways to navigate spiritual and emotional changes, new ways to kindle and sustain joy, financial stability, and spiritual well-being. Each session will have a guest presenter who brings a unique viewpoint on the topic from their own knowledge and experience to enable the cohort to openly explore some aspect of the retirement journey. The first meeting is with Rev. Dr. Bruce Epperly on 9/25/23. Registration deadline is 9/20/23.
Financial Wellness Workshop - October 11th, Southington, CT
Your financial wellness matters! Join Director of Stewardship & Donor Relations, Rev. David Cleaver-Bartholomew and the UCC Pension Boards’ Jonathan Lee for a workshop on Clergy Financial Wellness on October 11th, from 1:00-4:30 p.m. held at First Congregational Church of Southington, CT. Registration coming soon.
Search & Call Orientation for Clergy - October 31st, 2-4pm online
Whether you are ready to enter the Search & Call process, want to update your profile as good practice, or are just curious, this orientation is for you! We’ll cover the basics of how S&C works in SNEUCC, tips for writing a compelling profile, interview best practices and current S&C trends. Registration will be out later in September.
Racial Justice Training
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team at SNEUCC will be hosting a book study and discussion on The Afro-Christian Convention: The Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ, including a live discussion with editor Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk on December 7th. While free and open to all, MIDs and Authorized Ministers may pay to do an add-on to obtain six hours of racial justice credit (which will include additional work). Registration will come out later in the fall. Please check with your COM to see if this meets their requirement.
Boundary Awareness Training: Through the Lens of Clergy Wellness
We continue to offer on-line BAT; this is a 2.0 level course, intended for active clergy in all settings. You can read more about the approach, what’s included and what’s expected of you here. Please be aware that registration closes a week before each date.
- September 14, 2023, 9:30am-2:30pm
- November 13, 2023, 9:30am-2:30pm
- January 9 & 10, 2024, 6:30pm-8:30pm (both sessions must be attended)
Boundary Awareness Training for Retired Ministers - September 27, 1-4pm, online
Hosted by the Southeastern Conference, this BAT is for those Authorized Ministers who are retired but not Exempt. Please check your Association first to make sure they will accept this training for their requirement. Click here for more information or to register.
UCC Ministerial Code
“All persons with ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ are expected to abide by the UCC Ministerial Code” states the Manual on Ministry, 2018. This is both our ethical and spiritual commitment to living and serving in right relationship with God, ourselves, and one another. If you haven’t looked through it lately, we suggest you do.
A Sure Foundation
A Sure Foundation is a guide to best practices for the relationship between clergy and local churches. It includes resources on sabbatical time, clergy assessment, Pastor Relations Committees, boundaries when ministry ends and more.
Responding to Media Inquiries
UCC General Counsel, Heather Kimmel, recently shared best practices for Local Churches and pastors receiving media inquiries. This wisdom is applicable whatever the situation. If you do not already, we encourage you to follow Heather’s General Counsel Blog, which contains important and valuable information on the intersection of church and law.
Mandatory reporting (of suspected or evidenced abuse of minors or vulnerable adults) is one way to live out our ethical and religious mandate to care for the most vulnerable among us. It is also a legal requirement in many states. We strongly encourage you to take the online Mandated Reporter training offered by the state in which you serve. We also encourage you to work with your ministry setting to make sure your policies and practices are up to date. You can find information on all those things on our website
- How to Set Boundaries & Find Peace This podcast conversation with therapist and author Nedra Glover Tawwab explores how to set and maintain healthy boundaries in the workplace, among family and friends and in community.
- Vital Grace: Words of Comfort and Healing is a compilation of 5 articles from the Vital Signs and Statistics blog, chosen because they are “carefully researched and well-written essay-in-miniature, containing practical information on a topic that is important to all of us and to our Church.”
- Origins of the Forbidden Fruit Myth is an episode of the podcast Gone Medieval; if you are a bible nerd, this is for you. Professor Azzan Yadin-Israel describes his scholarly journey across art and religious history to uncover how the fruit in the Garden of Eden came to be popularly identified as an apple.
- The Misunderstood Reasons Millions of Americans Stopped Going to Church is from The Atlantic this summer; many have reflected on it, including Nadia Bolz-Weber.
- The Chaplaincy Lab at Brandeis University brings together chaplains, theological educators, clinical educators and social scientists into conversation about the work of chaplaincy and spiritual care. This series of brief videos explores the demand for and innovation happening in specific sectors.
We all have need of support from time to time. We are deeply grateful to our covenantal partners (Board of Ministerial Aid, MA; The Trustees of the Fund for Ministers, CT; Rhode Island Association, UCC Pension Boards) and the generosity of our church’s support of proportional giving, which make these services available to all Authorized Ministers with standing in the SNEUCC.
Resources on Clergy Self-Care
Debbie Ringen, SNEUCC Minister of Health and Wellness, has compiled a number of resources on healthy living during the pandemic, pastoral care, self-care for pastors, and mental/spiritual health.
Emergency Financial Grants
Emergency grants are available for authorized ministers and the families and spouses of deceased clergy who had standing at the time of death. These grants may cover medical costs not covered by insurance, major car expenses, expenses related to a natural disaster, major dental work, or any other pressing and unexpected need. Contact your Area Conference Minister to discuss receiving support; your information is only shared with those who administer the program and are held in covenantal confidence. There are plenty of funds - please reach out.
Safe and therapeutic space in which to process our experiences is essential. All Authorized Ministers can receive 3 free counseling sessions through our partners.
Pension Boards Resources
Individuals enrolled in the UCC Pension Boards Health Care Plan have access to the Member Assistance Program + Work/Life Program, or MAP+Work/Life, offered through West Health Advocate Solutions, a leading clinical health advocacy company. This is a no-cost benefit that provides confidential access to a Licensed Professional Counselor or Work/Life Specialist. Through in-person visits, and unlimited, confidential phone consultations, these specialists can walk members through any of life’s temporary setbacks.
This is a quarterly newsletter for Authorized Ministers in SNEUCC.