Charles L. Wildman,
Interim Conference Minister
Pastoral Letter Index
October 5, 1999
To the churches and ministers of the Connecticut Conference: Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, who calls us to unity in our freedom!
As our faces are turned toward New London and Mystic for our annual meeting, I write with a few reminders and some pastoral concerns for our life together.
Enthusiasm is high for the many elements of this meeting which promise to make it a special one: the presence of our new national President, the Rev. John Thomas, our keynoter, Valerie Tutson, time at the Amistad, worship on Sunday afternoon with New London Association churches, and many opportunities for deliberation, learning and inspiration.
We are hoping that each church will be bringing a quilt square to the blessing of the Amistad on Saturday afternoon. We do need the information about the quilter and her/his signature pinned to the back of the square in order for it to be used by the Amistad. The form for all that was in the brochure sent in my last pastoral letter. Remember -- everyone is welcome as long as they register for Annual Meeting, and take a bus from the Saturday seminars to the Seaport.
Also please check your meeting mailing -- we are also encouraging each person to bring medical supplies for Honduras (see list in mailing), and each church to bring a symbol of "what time this is for your church" for use in creating our worship center.
A new curriculum for children and youth is in the process of being released by the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries to help our churches teach about sexuality from a faith basis. They -- and we -- are aware that this resource will be greeted by some with enthusiasm and by others with reservations. Elements of the curriculum will soon be available for review at the Ruth Dudley Resource Center. Two members of our Conference have been trained to equip people to teach this curriculum:
For K-1, and 4, 5, 6: The Rev. Linda Bagnal, First Church, East Hartford
For Grades 7-9: The Rev. Selena Blackwell, Imani Fellowship, Windsor
Because this is a matter of great sensitivity, I want to stress two things: 1) only churches which have leaders who have been trained in the curriculum will be certified to purchase it, and 2) all elements include parental permission and parental guidance. As the Rev. Dr. Thomas Dipko, Executive Vice President of the UCBHM, has said, "It is my hope that these two programs will find a place in the life of the United Church of Christ at a time in history when we dare not leave the last word on human sexuality to those in our culture who cannot imagine that it is a gift from anyone, let alone a gift from God."
This curriculum will also be available for use in public and private school, scouting and club settings as well. Thus, it has been developed in companion components, so that there is a manual for teaching the sexuality elements of the curriculum and a manual for integrating the faith elements with the sexuality elements. Some have argued that the two should have been one. However, for the curriculum to be useable by "secular" clubs and schools, they had to be separated.
I would encourage you to think of this as a dynamic resource which meets both a mission need in our nation, and an educational need within our churches. It is completely optional for our churches, as are all our resources.
Some of you are aware that lawsuits involving complaints of pastoral misconduct have been brought. Please be aware that neither rumor nor new media are reliable sources of information about these suits and their allegations. What is reported is often only the allegations made by the plaintiff. I ask you to hold in prayer everyone who is touched by these lawsuits. May God grant healing and strength to all.
We hold in prayer:
May Christ's blessing be on each.
Sincerely in Christ,
Davida Foy Crabtree