ShortHand
April - May 2009

Young Clergy Midwest region event set

The Great Lakes Region of UCC Conferences has announced a young clergy and seminarian's conference to be held April 27-30 in Chicago.

"The Midwest Region Young Clergy Event: Imagining Church" offers young clergy and seminarians an opportunity to "see visions and dream dreams" about the future of the UCC.

The venue for the event is the Canticle Conference and Retreat Center near DePaul University.

Featured speaker Doug Pagitt is founder of the Solomon's Porch Christian Community in Minneapolis and a central voice in the "emergent" Christian conversation.

Organizers have invited all young clergy and seminarians to the event, regardless of location or their affiliation with the UCC.

Cost is $285 for a single room, $225 for a double room and $110 for commuters — scholarships are available. More information and registration materials can be obtained from the Rev. Tisha Brown at 608/836-1455 or <hope@madisonchristiancommunity.org>.

First 'Media with a Mission' grants awarded

The Stillspeaking Ministry awarded its first round of 2009 Media with a Mission grants on Feb. 20, totaling $9,600. Ten congregations in six states received monies to support local ad purchases promoting their UCC identity and Stillspeaking initiatives.

Local Churches or groups of churches who embrace the message of the Stillspeaking Ministry and want to extend their invitation via radio, TV or print advertising are eligible for the grants. Maximum awards will not exceed $2,000 in a calendar year for individual churches, $4,000 for groups of churches.

Since 2006, Media with a Mission has awarded more than $100,000 to 137 churches in 32 states. The outreach made possible by these grants has collectively reached more than 7 million people. Grants totaling $40,000 are available in 2009. Please visit <ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking> for grant updates and application guidelines.

Franklinton Center to host talk on race

The faith community‘s work in dealing with issues of justice, race, and racism is always an intense conversation. Today, as perhaps in no other period in U.S. history, this unique time requires us to face our own questions about the necessity, relevance and effectiveness of the faith community's response to individual racism.

Franklinton Center at Bricks, a UCC conference and retreat site in eastern North Carolina, is continuing to host such conversations. The next will be held on April 6-7. This is part of the Center's work with Justice and Witness Ministries of the UCC.

Leading the facilitated conversation will be the Rev. Bernice Powell-Jackson of the World Council of Churches and the Rev. George Reed, Executive Director of the N.C. Council of Churches. They will share their personal and professional experiences and testimonies.

Registration is $45 for a double occupancy room. Register online at <ucc.org/franklinton-center/events.html> or call 252/437.1723.

UCC Coffee Project grows in 2008

The UCC Coffee Project sold 76,110 pounds (roughly 38 tons) of fairly traded coffee, tea, and food products in 2008 via 3,297 orders, an increase of more than 10 percent, from 68,825 pounds (34.4 tons) in 2007.

Coffee again made up the bulk of products sold (64,447 pounds), although the UCC Coffee Project sold 6,015 pounds of fairly traded chocolate in 2008. Grand total sales of all fairly traded products by the UCC Coffee Project were $591,124.32 in 2008.

The UCC Coffee Project offers UCC congregations the opportunity join hands with communities in the developing world. Through the project, small farmers and their families gain control over their lives, earn a fairer share of income, have access to credit and technical support, and gain a trading partner they can trust.

More information and a link to online ordering can be found at <ucc.org/justice/coffee-project>.

Synod likely to take up bylaw changes

General Synod 27 is expected to be asked to consider two sets of proposed changes to the UCC's Constitution and Bylaws, pending approval of the 90-member Executive Council at its late March meeting. The Executive Council's meeting was taking place after the press deadline for this issue of United Church News.

One set of revisions deals with issues related to preparation and authorization for ministry in the UCC, in keeping with the Multiple Paths for Ministry Pronouncement adopted by General Synod 25 in Atlanta. Another set of changes is related to a governance streamlining proposal — also expected to be considered by delegates in Grand Rapids — that would reduce the number of autonomous governing boards in the UCC's national setting from five to one.

Any recommendations for changes to the Constitution and Bylaws, as approved by the Executive Council, will be available at <ucc.org/synod/bylawschanges> no later than April 26, since revisions must be made available to Synod delegates, Conferences and local churches at least two months before the start of a meeting of the General Synod.

UCC offices angage sustainable purchasing

Seeking to live out the General Synod's commitment to justice in purchasing and sourcing of UCC identity or Covenanted Ministry-branded items and apparel, staff in the Covenanted Ministries of the UCC will begin sourcing certified sustainable products to be sold to UCC members and/or distributed at UCC events.

A commitment has been made to carefully screen potential vendors and make sourcing decisions only after thoughtful deliberation.

Items are reasonably determined to be produced under conditions that are fair to workers and environmentally sustainable if they are obtained from sources described by one or more of the following characteristics:

Production plants and facilities in the global South certified by third parties as "sweat-free" and/or "fair-trade"

Firms whose production and trade practices have been recognized by third parties as "green" or "environmentally sustainable"

Firms with a workforce represented by a union that is independent of the firm's management

Independent artists and artisans

Firms known by UCC purchasers to be governed by fair labor standards and practices, and/or

Firms with a missional expression consistent with UCC values

A one-year trial of this purchasing policy with an evaluation scheduled for early 2010 has been approved by the Collegium.
Many producers and suppliers already used by the Covenanted Ministries satisfy these guidelines, others may be found at Sweatfree Communities <sweatfree.org/ShoppingGuide> or Coop America <coopamerica.org/pubs/greenpages>. 

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