August 25, 2023
Small groups, youth group, children’s programming, birthday cards, prayer lists, spreadsheets and databases… What do all of these things have in common?
Answer: Relational Ministry.
“Relational Ministry” focuses on genuine, caring connections between people that help build a community that serves a higher purpose.
But how do we do that at UCC? Through spreadsheets and databases, of course! Or is it through small group discussions, VBS activities, middle school lock-ins, and high school camp-outs? Or is it Elder visits and phone calls with homebound members or simply a birthday card in the mail? Maybe it’s all of the above?
Over the last year, we’ve been firsthand witnesses to how strong Relational Ministry is at UCC. We’ve supported one another through the expected and unexpected highs and lows of life. Our prayer and care list is active and life-changing. We’ve seen people step into roles -- both as staff and church members -- that have allowed our community to continue to blossom and thrive. And we want to keep it going. Through multiple meetings this past year, lovingly dubbed “Membership Mania!!”, we cross-checked the various software programs that keep our addresses, prayer lists, and email lists, but there’s still work to do.
As we enter the new school year and kick off fall activities…as we look to Stewardship month in September…and as we look ahead to our time with Intentional Interim Minister Rev. Janet Maykus…we want to build on what we’ve been doing here at UCC and help it grow.
The staff and Council members are working hard to gather information, update Bylaws and handbooks, keep us organized, and plan amazing experiences and activities for all ages. In order to make sure we are reaching the correct people and offering the appropriate opportunities and connection points, you may be asked to confirm or update your household information. Please know that your household information will be handled in a secure manner and only used for appropriate church business. We may ask you for birthdays or allergies or if you want to be on the In-house Facebook page. We’ll ask if you want to join a small group and to pledge to our ministries in 2024.
In short, we’ll ask you to be in Relational Ministry with us!
Thank you for giving us information to fill out spreadsheets and databases, but more importantly, thank you for giving of your time, talents, and love in building up the relationships at this church for the greater mission of God in this world.
Pastor of Pastoral Care
Dearest Church Family,
As some of you know, I have been providing leadership support to our office staff during this year’s time of pastoral transition. What a gift it has been! There have been times of laughter and times of tears. We have shared both joyous certainty and the concerning unknown. I will always look back at this time as an opportunity to be a servant leader to a group of talented, artistic, knowledgeable, thoughtful, collaborative, and loving people.
When I shared the exciting news about our church’s Interim Senior Minister with Emily, Julie, Kelley, and Meghan, we discussed Rev. Janet’s outstanding qualifications. We talked about how her experience will serve our congregation, what kind of staff leader she seems to be, and how we will start preparing for her arrival. What a relief! We have an Interim on the way!
And then, as that news sinks in, we start to wonder. Is it okay to be both excited and nervous? Can we look forward to having healthy leadership stability in our church, but also regret losing the tapestry of diverse voices we’ve had over the past many months? Can we trust in the future and celebrate progress, at the same time that we are still feeling hurt by our collective past? Can we hold feelings that seem in conflict with each other?
We had a beautiful conversation in this week’s staff meeting. We acknowledged our complex feelings. We talked about the upcoming ministerial transition, the changes we are experiencing in our lives, and the dichotomy of our emotions. The start of a new school year is most certainly a time of significant transition and many mixed emotions. Sunday is our Blessing of the Backpacks, where we will recognize this momentous transition for all our students, educators, and school staff and administrators. We will share a collective blessing that they may be sustained and know that the love and care of this congregation surrounds them each school day.
This wonderful church gives us a place to celebrate, mourn, contemplate, and process feelings together. It’s a safe and loving space where others are ready to listen as we share our excitement and anxiousness and prayers in this journey forward with each other and with God.
Personnel Committee Chair
On your mark…get set…GO!
It’s August…activities are gearing up…we’re starting the school year and we’re hitting the ground running. :)
Thank you to all who wrote notes of encouragement and support to teachers after church last Sunday. As a former teacher (and spouse of a current one!), I can tell you we’re grateful for that support and love.
Thank you also to those who have already picked an apple from our School Supply Tree. There are more apples on the tree, so if you’d still like to pick one, they’ll be available again on this coming Sunday, August 6. These supplies are going to be delivered to Dessau Middle School, so please bring any donations by next Sunday, August 13. If you’d like to help with the School Supply Drive, but are unable to be in person, this newsletter has links to the lists included below. Several teachers have Amazon wish lists that they need help fulfilling.
And speaking of August 13, we have an opportunity to encourage and bless our students, teachers, and staff as they prepare for the upcoming school year. Starting a new school year is so exciting, but it can also be challenging and often brings up feelings of worry. We set aside this Sunday as a meaningful way to lift up those feelings to God, share them with our church family, and pray for blessings on a beautiful new year. We hope you’ll join us for this year's Blessing of the Backpacks Sunday. We’ll start our morning with Pastries on the Playground at 9 a.m. – a time of fellowship, snacks, and playtime! Our 10 a.m. Worship Service will include this time of celebration and blessing for our students, teachers, and staff. All are invited to bring a backpack, briefcase, school bag, laptop, etc. for a blessing. And following the service, we’ll bless all of the school supplies collected before they get delivered!
I’m looking forward to so many activities in August, but mostly, I’m looking forward to seeing all of you.
With love, always,
Emily Guerrero :)