Posted in The Wider Church

Our Wider Church: The MACUCC Annual Meeting

  • September 7, 2016

David Swain attended the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ Annual Meeting at UMass Amherst on June 17-18, 2016 on behalf of our congregation. Here is his report!

13445827_10153198699762824_5900954347625028854_nOverview Although the 2016 Annual Meeting lacked the electric atmosphere of the 2015 Meeting (due to the sensation created in 2015 by Israel-Palestine Resolution and Nadia Bolz-Weber’s preaching), this year’s meeting was important in two ways that are significant for the future of the Mass Conference.  First, MACUCC is doing some belt-tightening by reducing both the OCWM retention rate and the United Church Mission sharing ratio, closing the Waltham office (merged into Framingham), and increasing Fellowship dues ($18.55 to 19.00). Second, MACUCC is discerning whether to merge with the Connecticut and Rhode Island Conferences.  A highlight for WCUC was hearing Cindy Maybeck, our incoming interim minister, bring down the house with the story of her commitment ceremony.

Preaching and Music This year’s worship component was eclectic, 13417657_10153198707277824_7897421387790968532_nwith brilliant and provocative preaching by Rev. Otis Moss III and musical meditation and improvisation by Ken Medema.  Moss spoke to the emerging problem of aging congregations that are failing to keep or attract young believers (using the story of Paul preaching all night and having revive the young man who fell from a window, asleep).  The challenge, Moss argued, is not that culture is failing to support religious life, but that churches are failing themselves by clinging to an outmoded culture.

Resolutions Annual Meeting took up one significant Resolution, “Calling on the 31st General Synod of the United Church of Christ and 13450895_10153198705552824_8462657443871611765_nits Members, Congregations, Associations, and Conferences to Covenant as Immigrant-Welcoming Congregations.”  The purpose of this resolution is to support the creation of a new designation for churches wishing to identify themselves as immigrant-welcoming churches. Recognizing that congregations are at very different places on immigrant issues, this Resolution carefully distinguishes between immigrant and refugee status, between “illegal” and “undocumented” labels.  There was a consensus vote to begin a two-year process to decide if MACUCC will be an Immigrant-Welcoming Conference, and to propose the Resolution to Synod in 2017.

Supporting materials: “Becoming an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation: The Journey is Made by Walking” and the MACUCC page on Immigration and Refugee Concerns.

MACUCC Discernment on a Merger  Based on a history of mutual cooperation and recognized interdependence, the MA, CT, and RI Conferences of the UCC have endorsed a Resolution, “Awakening: A Season of Discernment for a Future of Shared 13445490_10153198703772824_8264926839092979054_nMinistry.”  Much of the first afternoon of the the meeting was dedicated to discussing what a merger, or federation, of the conferences might mean for each, and for a new united conferences.  It became clear in presentations made by the three conferences that Rhode Island, in particular, had much to gain financially, and that MA and CT had much to gain through shared organizational structures.  General questions raised: what is the current state of the covenant between us? what would this mean on the local level? how would this benefit all of us?

Supporting materials and a survey on the proposed merger here.

Future Directions  MACUCC will no longer meet at UMass in Amherst, as the facilities are too small and the location is inconvenient for many attendees.  The 2017 meeting will be held in Hartford, CT.

You can read the MACUCC’s summary of the event, complete with videos of the speakers, here.

WCUC Was Here 2015: Marriage Equality edition

  • June 30, 2015

WCUC_supreme_courtOur very first photo submission of the summer is a special one: Sharon, Ellen and Mark visited the Supreme Court just one week before Sharon and Ellen’s marriage was fully recognized by our nation. It is so ordered! Hallelujah!

You can read more from leaders of the United Church of Christ about the marriage equality decision here (national leaders) and here (regional leaders). The UCC has played an important role in the struggle for marriage equality and equal rights, including our affirmation of equal marriage in 2005, organizing efforts in several states, and a particularly visible role in the North Carolina supreme court case. Here at WCUC we embraced an Open and Affirming covenant in 1999.

Congratulations to Sharon and Ellen — and to all of us! Please share your own summer adventures, near and far, by sending photos to our office.

Shout! Revere our Climate

  • June 30, 2015

shout imageThanks to the efforts of WCUC leaders and many others, more than 350 people gathered on April 19th to walk, ride, process and rally to “sound the alarm” on the urgent need to address climate change. You can view the event website here and a video summary of the event here.

Shaped by Hope – In a Climate Crisis World

  • March 19, 2015

Jim AntalExcerpts from the sermon  “Shaped by Hope – In a Climate Crisis World” preached by the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal on March 15, 2015

We need to take to heart Jesus’ most common instruction: “Fear not!” When it comes to the climate crisis – following Jesus’ admonition – we need to fearlessly move forward:

  • Unafraid to face the facts.
  • Unafraid to speak with candor.
  • Unafraid to name and go after what may seem to be impossible accomplishments because
    that is what is required to preserve God’s creation.

To address the climate crisis, we need:

  • a hope that goes beyond the personal concerns we each have;
  • a hope big enough to embrace the world around us;
  • a hope not limited to people but a hope that embraces all life;
  • and not only all things alive today, but a hope so large that all generations to come are included. That’s the hope that God gave Noah after the flood when God declared an everlasting covenant. God is not only concerned about us! In addition to us, God covenants with all future generations and with every living creature. (Genesis 9:12)

Some of you know that on July 1, 2013 the UCC became the first denomination to vote to divest from fossil fuel companies. This began when your Mass Conference Board voted to bring the resolution I had written to Synod. In doing so, we were on the front line of what is becoming a larger movement that now includes close to 1,000 universities, cities, philanthropic foundations and faith communities whose investments together represent more than fifty billion dollars.

Why divest from fossil fuel companies? Well – because the carbon they own – or have the right to tap – is five times what it will take to alter life as we know it. If fossil fuel companies simply continue to carry out their mission, they will wreck the earth.

And as people of faith, not only do we believe that wrecking God’s creation is morally wrong, we believe it’s morally wrong to profit from wrecking creation.

Climate change is already testing our coastal cities, our farms, our national parks, our rivers. It’s also already testing the poor, the marginalized, the elderly, the hungry and homeless. Now it’s time for us to test our politicians. Now it’s time to test any who would profit by wrecking God’s creation.

And most importantly – now it’s time to test our faith. I urge you to allow a great hope to enter your heart as you receive Jesus’ most frequent admonition – “Fear Not!” Face this challenge, follow where God is calling you, and recognize that however impossible, however unlikely, however unreachable, nothing is too hard for God. Amen.

Click here to read the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal’s entire sermon.

MACUCC Annual Meeting

  • June 20, 2014

June 13 & 14, 2014

Recently Pastor Hannah, Ruth and Maureen attended the 215th Annual Meeting of the Mass. Conference of the UCC, which was held in Sturbridge, Mass. Over 500 attendees at the meeting were inspired by worship presented by Conference Minister Rev. Dr. Jim Antal and keynote speaker Rev. Yvette Flunder from California.

Rev. Antal spoke of “envisioning possibilities as if they were inevitable.” Rev. Flunder spoke about the church as a village where everyone belongs to each other. She predicted that, “we will see unity coming from the people we least expect it from.” Hannah, Ruth and Maureen all returned from the Annual Meeting motivated by these nationally recognized speakers.

Meeting voters unanimously passed the motion to replace Conference Fellowship Dues and Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM) Basic Support with a new mechanism for giving by the local churches called United Church Mission. Attendees celebrated the life of Andy Gustafson, a much loved member of the Mass Conference staff who passed away in May. Attendees also celebrated the anniversary of Open and Affirming (ONA) being sponsored by the United Church of Christ.  It all started in Massachusetts thirty years ago at a meeting like this!


See the keynote address below:

Still Dreaming

The folks at Salt have made another marvelous video, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  Take a look!

Composting Church

washington DC churchIt’s hard to miss the fact that church is changing all over the world, as well as here at home.  Last year, several folks come together to consider the insights and resources offered by the “Emerging Church” movement.  This September, our Associate Conference Minister Wendy Vander Hart came to visit us to talk about the church’s “New Normal” and encourage us to be clear about what we are called to do and be.  Last week, Constance sent me another perspective written by her brother, a UCC pastor.  He wonders if we need to compost the church to renew our vitality.  Read more here.  What do you think?

Why I Love the Bible

  • October 2, 2013

Goddess, Sirach, St Johns BibleWhat was it that first drew you to Jesus, to Church, to Christian traditions?  What has kept you engaged or drawn you back?  Here a bishop and professor of New Testament at Harvard Divinity School movingly describes his abiding love affair with the bible.

John Bell: Singing with the Global Church

We have the great privilege of welcoming John Bell, internationally acclaimed preacher, sized_Copy of BELL.1bwteacher, songwriter, and musician from the Iona Community in Scotland to WCUC on October 12th and 13th.  On Saturday, we’ll gather at 7pm for an interactive workshop for all ages, “Singing with the Global Church.”  On Sunday morning, John will offer a sermon during worship.

Please register with the office if you would like to attend the Saturday workshop, to save your spot.  Registration is free; Donations will be requested at the door.  978-369-6309 or

Don’t miss it!  And spread the word if you can — here’s our poster.