Category Archives: 2011-02

Highlighting Other UCC Congregations

Each Sunday morning at worship I highlight and ask the congregation to pray for a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC) across the nation and invite us to worship with them “as sisters and brothers in faith”. The United Church of Christ became a denomination in 1957 as a uniting of the Congregational-Christian Church and the German Evangelical and Reformed Church (E&R). Most New England UCC churches have a Congregational background as does Sharon Congregational UCC, but those of you who have lived in the middle Atlantic states or the mid-west might know of E&R congregations as well which are now part of our denomination,the United Church of Christ (UCC) whose headquarters is in Cleveland, Ohio. We have found it interesting to hear throughout the past year about UCC churches of many types. Sometimes I choose churches very much like our own. Often I choose congregations which differ in size, ethnicity, history, building type, or missions/ministries which are unusual or especially timely. Sometimes I choose to tell about a congregation which has been the subject of an on-line article on the national UCC website. Sometimes I choose a congregation which has responded in some way to a natural disaster nationwide or worldwide – or which has experienced such difficulty itself. Sometimes I find an interesting UCC church described on Facebook and decide to share its activities with you. Sometimes there is a funny story- or a courageous one - about the pastor of a UCC church somewhere. Sometimes the church is one you, yourself, have visited or to which you used to belong. Sometimes I tell about a church I have visited. It’s pretty likely that in the next two weeks I’ll be discovering interesting UCC churches located somewhere near Green Bay (in Wisconsin) and near Pittsburgh, PA. 🙂 Throughout the year we have highlighted several UCC churches with a German E&R history - churches which have brought a rich heritage into our denomination including, especially, some lovely traditions around the celebration of Christmas. (Old Pilgrim/Congregation churches in New England did not celebrate Christmas at worship for many years.) We have also heard about new UCC churches begun by Asian or Hispanic communities,old downtown UCC churches which have changed their mission as city neighborhoods changed, churches with a history as old as ours and churches started on the western frontier in the 19th century by missionary societies from New England. We’ve heard about churches which keep to traditional ways of worship and those who try new music and forms of worship. Many pay attention to the changing needs of their community and reach out in mission in interesting and creative ways. In a few weeks when we are vacationing in Arizona, Carole and I hope to visit the congregation which I highlighted recently - Casa Adobes Congregational UCC in the northwest suburbs of Tucson which has an interesting 50+ year history of taking shape on land which was once a western ranch, a very progressive way of reaching out in mission and ministry, but especially in recent weeks has been challenged to respond in faithful witness and by hope-giving to the awful shooting violence which occurred at a shopping mall just around the corner. Please continue to keep UCC churches in Tucson and their pastors in your prayers. More to come in our next newsletter about some other interesting UCC churches. If you’re on-line and like to “google”and explore, try looking for the web-sites of United Church of Christ (UCC) churches in places that have meaning to you and let us know what you discover. Blessings, Pastor Marjorie

Pastor’s Note for February, 2011

Marjorie doing ASL
Pastor Marjorie
Dear Members and Friends of Sharon Congregational Church, UCC, It continues to be a joy to walk with you during this “interim time” at Sharon Congregational Church even though the commuting from my home in Shelburne,VT, (near Burlington) has been a bit more difficult this winter than last- more changeable weather and “wicked” driving, as they say here in New England. You are a most resilient congregation with a strong sense of faith and mission. I know that you await your next long-term called pastor and that there is just the right pastor out there for you, but the calling process has taken a little longer than we had hoped and we remain in ministry together this winter/spring. Together we will use our time well to reflect on our mission and ministry as a church as well as to prepare - all the more - for the future of SCC. I continue to be prayerful and hopeful about your future at Sharon Congregational and I appreciate of the faithful, patient work of your Pastor Search Committee as I’m sure you do as well. I appreciated your understanding and flexibility when I took a long-awaited two week Continuing Education “sabbatical”in early January, taking two classes (Theology of Small Church Ministry and Church History) at my seminary in Cambridge, MA. In February I will again be away for two weeks on vacation in Arizona where we like to soak up sunshine each winter. (After all, who wants to leave Vermont in the summer?). Your Deacons have been very helpful arranging for pastoral coverage for worship when I’m away and I am grateful. The Lenten season and Easter are much later this year than usual – beginning with Ash Wednesday on March 9th and ending with the celebration of Easter on Sunday, April 24th. Your Deacons are already pondering topics for Lenten Wednesday evening programs as well as considering resuming Sunday evening Bible study during Lent, if not sooner. Stay tuned for a detailed schedule. Maybe, just maybe, it will actually be spring like at Easter! Or not. 🙂 In any case, the spirit of the congregation seems very positive to me. I stood in the doorway of Steele Chapel this past Sunday during coffee hour and smiled broadly at the fellowship and good cheer that was so apparent among you. 🙂 What’s new? The Prayer Shawl group which meets on Friday mornings at 10 AM at the Lighthouse has been having fun getting together while knitting or crocheting comforting shawls for others. Some new folks have joined the group and others are always welcome. Some folks who are not available to meet on Friday mornings have gotten instructions for the shawls and have been working at home on a project. We blessed several shawls before Christmas and look forward to blessings/gifting more soon. Annual Meeting was held in mid-January with election of officers of the church and some new committee members,too. I’m especially pleased to see that a couple of new Deacons have agreed to serve, the Mission Board has become more official, and the Christian Education Board increased. Many of us are especially eager to make new, expanded,and creative plans in order to best welcome and teach the children and grandchildren of our congregation. Meanwhile several people have expressed interest in official membership at Sharon Congregational, we have plans for at least one Baptism this spring, and a wedding is scheduled for early June. Especially during Lent I would be very open to meeting with anyone who seeks these rites and sacraments of the church. Others who want to join or explore what it would mean to join? Other baptisms of children, teens, or adults? Teens who would like to attend some Confirmation classes and make a decision to join Sharon Congregational? More weddings? You may contact me thorough the church office by email. Blessings all, Pastor Marjorie