Charles L. Wildman,
Interim Conference Minister
Pastoral Letter Index
August 19, 2004
To: The Pastors and Moderators of our Churches
From: Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree, Conference Minister
Grace to you and peace in the name of our God, who is known to us through the diverse yet single Trinity, the one God who binds us together through our allegiance to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Just in case you missed it, please note that your church has until September 1st to sign up as a participating church in The Still Speaking Initiative. When you do, you will receive prominent listing on the www.ucc.org website to which viewers of the television ads will be directed. You will also have the opportunity to send a team of people to be trained right here in Connecticut in evangelism and welcoming newcomers to your church, and access to jazzy materials that you can use that will reinforce the message. Assistance in creating a web site, and participation in email networks throughout the duration of the television ad campaign and beyond will also be yours. We strongly urge you to sign up: go to www.ucc.org/stillspeaking to sign up! [The Initiative will be presented at a Forum at Annual Meeting by its director – see note on the Meeting below.]
The new health and welcome center is progressing. The building arrived in early July (it’s modular!) Quite a number of Silver Lake alums will be there next week (August 22) putting the siding on and doing some interior painting, myself included for at least one day. You’d be welcome too.
Some code and site requirements resulted in a funding shortfall of $80,000. The good news is we have a donor who will give us $1 for every $1 we raise by September 30th, up to a total from him of $12,500. So just imagine! Your gifts will be doubled if you can respond to this. Who can you think of who might appreciate the opportunity to move Silver Lake into its future? We’d appreciate all contributions of whatever size!
We’ve had a great summer at “the Lake”, with almost 1100 conferees on site and another 50 at offsite conferences. Summer staff and the volunteer deans, counselors , nurses and chaplains have had a great time under the leadership of co-directors Tim and Anne Hughes. We are deeply grateful for the time and energy given by each and every person to make summer conferences a growing experience for everyone in their relationship with God, with one another and with the earth God has given us to steward.
The new cabins in Cabin Circle and the Health and Welcome Center will be dedicated on Sunday, October 24th at 3:30 p.m. We’d like to make this a truly joyous and participatory event, so we hope you and members of your church will join us there. It’s a great opportunity to see Silver Lake and to celebrate the gifts of so many who are making its future possible.
In addition to searching for three new Regional Ministers to join Kent Siladi and Suzi Townsley, we are working through a number of other staff changes at United Church Center. Sarah Annis, who has been Coordinator of Programs and Resources for the past 3.5 years, has accepted an administrative position with an architectural firm. Sarah’s move is the result of our having had to downsize staff, and we are glad she has found an excellent new position! Diane Ciba, who has been Campaign Coordinator for our projected capital campaign for the past two years, has decided this is a propitious time to seek a position that will more fully use her many skills and her gifts for ministry. Both Sarah and Diane leave us on August 27.
Because of these changes, Amy Beveridge will now work fulltime not only in the Ruth Dudley Resource Center and as Stewardship Specialist, but also developing our Christian Education ministries and managing the many local church resources available in our office. Eric Anderson, webmaster, will add additional hours from now until early next year so we can improve the user-friendliness and design of our website and will also be providing technology assistance as we upgrade our data base and other technology dependent services. We are trying to work smarter even as we have fewer staff to carry out the heavy workload of your Conference!
We are in the process of searching for a part-time office services assistant (16 hours/week), if you know anyone who might be interested.
It would be helpful to us if there were people in the greater Hartford area who could volunteer periodically as we assemble mailings and prepare for Annual Meeting. A call to Jan Bittner at 860-233-5564, ext. 114, would be best if you or your church can assist.
We’re looking forward to seeing pastors, moderators and delegates at Annual Meeting on Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15. We will gather in several forms:
The Board of Directors and the Senior Staff of the Conference went on retreat last May – to the Church House in Cleveland! Through the generosity of the Board members themselves, and through the use of the UCC owned Radisson hotel that forms part of the Church House complex, we were able to keep costs to a minimum. All of us returned with excitement about what we had learned and the national executives and staff we had met while there. We want to encourage both pastors and lay leaders to consider a planned visit to our national headquarters. While we were there, a confirmation class from Houston, TX was also there – what a great gift to those confirmands to experience the church at work, to worship in the Amistad Chapel, to see the way our faith in Christ and our UCC identity pervade every aspect of our wider mission! Pastoral Concerns
The Rev. Dr. Nathanael Guptill and his spouse, Helen, have been experiencing health difficulties and are in need of our prayers. “Nat” is our Conference Minister Emeritus, having retired in 1980 after 18 years of service. He is recovering from a stroke and from surgery, and Helen is suffering some disorientation. I paid a pastoral visit to them this summer and was pleased to be able to communicate the warm greetings of our Conference in person. Cards can be sent to them at: 102 Leonard Avenue, Newton, NC 28658.
Nat’s longtime secretary, Doris Austin, died this spring, and Rev. Allen Tinkham conducted a memorial service for her on May 10. “Tink”, longtime Conference staffer, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination.
The following members or family of our clergy have died since I last wrote: Rev. Mel Williams, who served a number of our churches in northern Connecticut over the years, died suddenly in March as well; Rev. Ed Clapp, Pastor Emeritus of Newington; and Rev. Zdenek “Denny” Bednar, Pastor Emeritus at Wilton; Rev. Paul Malicote, retired pastor. Eleanor, wife of Rev. Paul Battenhouse, former pastor at Hartford’s Center Church, died in August, and Rev. Olivia Robinson’s mother died in July as a result of a fire at her home last January. Let us hold them and their families in prayer.
I also ask that you hold an unnamed pastor in prayer, one who is struggling with depression, and whom we are seeking to support, a number of other clergy who are struggling with serious illness, and a clergy family that has just suffered a miscarriage.
In just 34 months, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ will convene at the new convention center in Hartford, and we will be the host Conference. Can you imagine – this is the first time the Synod has ever met in Connecticut, and this will be the 50th anniversary of the denomination!
We are going to need many people from our churches to step forward as volunteers for everything from baking cookies to transportation and hospitality teams to office volunteers. We are particularly looking right now for an energetic, well organized, superb follow-through person to be one of the prime leaders of the team. The Rev. David Taylor, Senior Minister of First Church in Glastonbury, has agreed to be Co-Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee with this second person. David, who also fits that description, is known to many across our Conference as he was Associate Conference Minister for Church in Society and Area Minister on our staff from 1985 to 1996. We’d encourage you to suggest people to serve in this capacity or others by emailing Peggy Wright, Assistant to the Conference Minister: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling her at 860-233-5564 (or 866-367-2822 (FOR-CUCC) outside the Hartford calling area.
In connection with Synod’s visit, we’d like to develop some UCC Heritage Tours of Connecticut. The idea is to identify and link a large number of historic and cultural sites that delegates and visitors to Synod might experience before and after Synod. The convention and visitors’ bureau will provide us with a website, and we want to fill it with maps and stories of people represented by the places. Attendees could develop their own itineraries and download biographies and stories related to the sites. Who do you know that would be excited to work on such a project?