December 2008 - January 2009

UCC Physicians Network resuscitated

The UCC Physicians Network is seeking the input of physicians who find their spiritual home in the UCC. The Network was organized several years ago to provide opportunities for physicians to work together in addressing issues of mutual interest and concern, and to meet some of the unique spiritual needs of physicians who are part of the UCC.

On June 26, 2007, General Synod 26, meeting in Hartford, Conn., passed a resolution calling for churchwide study on "Legalization of Physician Aid in Dying": Justice and Witness Ministries has been asked to assemble a report based on this resolution to be presented to GS 27 in 2009.

UCC physicians interested in contributing to this report are urged to contact chairperson Larry Smith, UCC Physicians Network; phone 717/542-3402; e-mail or Barbara T. Baylor, UCC minister for health care justice, phone 216-736-3720; e-mail

Insurance Board issues new calendars

The UCC Insurance Board has introduced its first ever loss prevention calendar to participating churches. The 2009 calendar, whose theme "52 Weeks/52 Ways We Care About Your Church," provides a unique tip each week aimed at reducing a church"s risk of incurring some type of loss. All 2,400 IB participants will receive a calendar.

The IB produced the calendar "in an effort to reduce the disruptive impact to our churches" ministries that comes from losses and claims," says Cathy Green, UCC Insurance Board CEO and president. "The more value-added services and products that we can offer from a prevention standpoint, the less likelihood our churches have of sustaining an interruption in their services," Green continues, "We take that responsibility seriously."

Participants will receive advice about everything from preventing slips, trips and falls to thwarting would-be arsonists. Many of the tips refer readers back to checklists that can be found on the UCCIB"s website For more information or additional copies, please contact Elizabeth Vance, UCCIB marketing coordinator, at 216/736-3243 or

Nominations sought for women's award

The UCC"s Ministry for Women"s Concerns is seeking nominations for the 2009 Antoinette Brown award to be granted at General Synod 27 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Women nominated need to hold ordained ministerial standing in the UCC. The award is given to two recipients who exemplify the contributions that women can make through ordained ministry; have provided outstanding ministry in a parish or other church related institutions, including women in specialized ministry; and have a sensitivity concerning the challenges and possibilities of women in ministry and advocacy on behalf of all women in the church.

Nominating forms were included in the November all -church mailing packet sent to UCC local churches, Conferences and Associations. Forms are also available online at Nominations will be accepted through Dec. 31, 2008.

 The award, first presented at General Synod 10, is named for the Rev. Antoinette Brown (1825-1921), the first woman ordained to ministry in the U.S. A selection committee comprising representatives from the four Covenanted Ministries, the Council of Conference Ministers, and a former Antoinette Brown recipient, will consider nominees for selection.

NY Conference issues 'bicycle challenge'

The New York Conference is organizing a group that will travel by bicycle June 12-26, 2009, from Syracuse to Grand Rapids, Mich. Riders will raise money for a new fund established by the Conference to help churches in their "green" efforts. Cyclists will stay with local UCC congregations on this journey through four states and Conferences.

The "bicycle challenge" invites others across the church to bike (or walk) to General Synod. Those who can"t travel to Grand Rapids by human-powered means are encouraged to choose travel methods that use less fossil fuel and produce fewer greenhouse gases.

A release from the New York Conference says, "Together can we become a symbol of Christians" love and care for God"s creation."

The churchwide effort will draw public attention to North America"s disproportionate fuel consumption and its negative environmental impact. With less than five percent of the world"s population, the U.S. is the world"s oil-thirstiest nation, using more than 25 percent of the world"s annual oil production.

Contact the Rev. Michael Caine, New York Regional Conference Minister, or Catherine Rolling, UCC Minister for Environmental Justice, for more information on this ride, to organize your own group, or to let them know who from your Conference will be traveling by bike.

Single governance board receives go-ahead

The fall meetings of the four Covenanted Ministry boards, and the Executive Council, have all resulted in votes to proceed with the formation of a single United Church Board (UCB) that will govern the UCC.

Their approval sets in motion the next phase of the Governance Formation Team II (GFT-II) plan for ministry oversight in which the chairs and vice-chairs of each board, and the Executive Council, will meet with their counterparts in January 2009 to reconcile, if possible, any differences in their actions.

Among the differences that must be resolved by this group is representation in the UCB from the Council for Racial and Ethnic Ministries (COREM). A recommendation from the Justice and Witness Ministries board proposes additional representation from each of the five COREM bodies. This motion would raise their representation from two to three members each, resulting in a UCB size of 90-93 instead of 85-88.

Non-GFT-II actions by two boards also affirmed the continuation of their leadership, nominating the Rev. Stephen Sterner (Local Church Ministries) and the Rev. Linda Jaramillo (Justice and Witness Ministries) to renewed terms as executive ministers of their respective Covenanted Ministries. These nominations will be presented for approval by the General Synod meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., next June.