In the past two issues, the United Church News' Soapbox invited readers to name some UCC programs that have been significant to local congregations. Here are your responses.
Eighty-four years ago at my home church, Zion Evangelical UCC in Newburgh, Ind., my mother had her own "called to care" program and she was the self-appointed chairperson. Frequently throughout the year she would ask my father to hitch our most gentle horse, Nell, to the buggy and she would drive to the homes of the shut-ins, the elderly of the congregation, taking to each home a dish of cottage cheese.
Today, members of the UCC's "Called to Care" program regularly visit me, sometimes bringing a complete meal, at other times a box of candy or a plate of homemade cookies. Needless to say, each visitor is appreciated.
Not long ago, one of my grandchildren said, "You don't have much company. Probably your friends are all in nursing homes by now." I said, "No, they are now in the cemetery." Therefore, I appreciate so much the visits of the church members today. May they continue their good work. It gives me the feeling that I am still a part of the church even though I am 94 years old.
I want to lift up Partners In Education (PIE). For a church to do its work, there are three parts to a "PIE" that are needed: time, talent and treasure. PIE helps by forming the solid crust to support the filling and the stability when serving that knowledge to the congregation. The UCC's "Partners" have spent many hours training and learning about varied components of Christian Education. They have a passion for Christian education as vital to the well being of the church.
Ohio Conference Resource Center
A number of years ago most folks said that no one would make a commitment to indicate what they would contribute to Grace UCC the next year. Today, we know that isn't true.
Thanks to a stewardship seminar conducted by a member of the national staff to get us going, followed by use of the UCC's Consecrating Stewards program and the stewardship campaign materials that are prepared for us each year, we now hold a consecration service where members make a commitment. Then, we can build a budget on that commitment! It can be done! We need the materials to keep us going!
There are many things about the national setting that I could praise, but I think they should know the areas in which they are falling behind the times. So, here's my soapbox.
The worship resources are too liturgical, the music very churchy, the Sunday school materials dull. The evangelism packets have little to do with growing a church in today's world. I look for stewardship resources that teach the spirituality of giving. I use online resources from many denominations for worship planning, the Methodist's curriculum, the Disciples' new hymnal of praise music, and the Natural Church Development program for evangelism. It's time to update!
The Rev. Lisa Hart
Union Congregational UCC
Green River, Wyo.
I'd like to put in a plug for the UCC's Partners in Education (PIE) program. Staffers Ken Ostermiller and Sid Fowler have been both inspiring and instrumental to its incredible success. PIE gives me access to the continuing education that is crucial to my profession. I am able to be connected with UCC education circles and keep current on the latest trends. That, in turn, enables me to offer a dynamic, thriving program for the children and families of our own congregation, as well as spreading the wealth to other churches in our Conference, most of which operate with volunteers leading their Christian Education programs and could use a shot in the arm.
Director of Christian Education
First Parish UCC