Bless! event at Old South to conclude Mission:1
Written by Jeff Woodard
October 3, 2011
less than a month until the UCC’s highly anticipated Mission:1 campaign aims
its efforts on worldwide hunger, the countdown to the Bless! forum at Boston’s Old South UCC is in full flow.
In collaboration with Old South, the UCC national setting will present
“Bless!” – a broad-based forum on the renewal of the ancient practice of
blessing, a rite that has breathed new life and energy into Christian
The national conference will take place Nov. 10-11, the final two days of
“At Old South, we sometimes say, ‘You
put it in front of us, and we'll bless it,’” said the Rev. Quinn G. Caldwell,
associate minister at Old South. “Not sanction it. Not approve of it,
necessarily, but raise our hands over it and ask God to send God's power upon
it and do what she will.”
During the two-day conference, Old South clergy will discuss the theology
and practice of blessing; tell how the act of blessing has transformed its congregational
life; and share strategies for bringing blessing more fully into the congregational
lives of UCC churches – and then
out into the streets.
“We have come to believe that blessing is the central act of Christian
faith,” said Caldwell. “Before anything else, we ask God to bless, we invite God's
presence into the world and into our lives. We ask God to turn us toward the
things that call out for our attention – the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Creativity in living out Mission:1 is abounding, said the Rev. J.
Bennett Guess, executive minister of UCC Local Church Ministries. “I am so
thrilled by the visible ways that congregations have unleashed their creativity
around this, which is just what we’d hope would happen.
“We are hearing from dozens of new churches every day that are
reporting their goals and creative approaches to making this mission campaign
come alive in their local communities,” said Guess. “It’s really exciting to
An extra emphasis on raising more than $111,111 for East Africa
famine relief, in addition to the previously stated goal of collecting $111,111
for Neighbors in Need, has raised the collective energy around Mission: 1
Presented by UCC Local Church Ministries (LCM), Old South Church and the
SALT Project, the “Bless!” event will include the introduction of a
"Bless!" video and study guide designed to inspire worship leaders to
reclaim blessing as a means of revitalizing congregations.
In addition, the "Bless!" closing worship service Nov. 11 will be
the nationwide blessing for the conclusion of the UCC "Mission: 1"
anti-hunger mission campaign. The service will be web-streamed live.
The meeting will be the first in what LCM hopes will be many collaborations
among congregations becoming known as Centers of Excellence in various areas of
"We want to be very clear that our chosen Centers of Excellence
demonstrate ministry that can be replicated in nearly every church," said
Guess. "It must be something that almost any congregation can modify and
implement regardless of their size or location.”
Participants will receive a complimentary DVD with registration. The video
and study guide will be available for purchase after Nov. 11.
For more information or to register for Bless!, visit <ucc.org/bless>.
To view the Bless! trailer, please visit <youtube.com/watch?v=iTXqw6xYRM0> or <vimeo.com/29664867>.