June - July 2007
July 1, 2007

United Church News wins top newspaper prize

United Church News, the UCC's national newspaper, was recognized by the interfaith Religion Communicators Council as the nation's best religion newspaper during presentation of the 2007 DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards.

The annual awards program, held April 26 in Louisville, Ky., honors the best in religion communications in print, video and electronic media.
United Church News has more than 185,000 subscribers nationwide, making it the largest U.S. denominational publication in terms of readership. Its staff includes the Rev. Robert Chase, publisher; the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, editor; Randy Varcho, art director; and Connie Larkman, advertising manager.

For the second year in a row, Guess received first-place honors for best newspaper editorial for his June-July 2006 column, "Easy analysis never captures full story of church's challenge." Guess also received a second-place award of merit for best newspaper feature story for "The Invisible, Protestant Mary." (December 2006).

The UCC also received first-place awards for best annual report, "And the World Took Notice" and for best television script for the "Ejector Seat" TV commercial.

Second-place awards were given to the UCC's 50 anniversary commemorative book, "UCC @50," for best overall publication design (Robert Chase, publisher; W. Evan Golder and J. Martin Bailey, editors; Randy Varcho, art director; and Robyn Nordstrom, designer) and to the UCC's "Troubled Waters" documentary for ABC-TV stations (Robert Chase, Jean Robinson and Wally Ryan Kuroiwa, executive producers; UCC member Lynn Redgrave, narrator).

Also, in April, Associated Church Press presented United Church News with several awards at its annual meeting in Chicago.
Guess won a first-place award of excellence for best feature story, "Would Jesus Do Standup?" (April/May 2006) and third-place honorable mention for best news story, "Amplifying the Mainline" (June/July 2006)

The Rev. Lillian Daniel, United Church News' spirituality columnist in 2006, received second-place honors for best columnist.
ACP, like RCC, also honored the UCC's 2005 Annual Report, "And the World Took Notice" as the year's best.

Disciples plan massive 'chalice exchange' at summer's General Assembly

Those attending this summer's General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will be packing something extra in their suitcase: a chalice.

And those Disciples who can't attend the July 21-25 meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, are shipping a chalice to stand in their stead.

The coalescing of communion ware is more than symbolic for the Protestant denomination known for sharing communion at every service of worship. It's also intended to be a great sign of Christian unity, with Disciples of Christ members and pastors leaving their national gathering with a different chalice than the one they brought.

"Every Disciples congregation is invited to bring or send a chalice to General Assembly 2007, which will be exchanged with a chalice from another Disciples congregation," reads the invitation to participate. "We will use as many chalices as possible in a communion service during evening worship, and the chalices will also be displayed in the chapel."

Disciples, who are known for their bright red 'chalice' emblem, share a close ecumenical partnership with the UCC. Both denominations maintain a common Global Ministries board, based in Cleveland, Ohio and Indianapolis, Ind.

The UCC and Disciples also held joint General Synod/Assembly gatherings in 1993 and 2001. Last summer, the UCC's executive council said it would extend an invitation to the Disciples to consider meeting jointly once again in 2013.

Follow news of the General Assembly at


The Rev. Francis Xavier Pirazzini, 84, who died May 6, was a UCC minister for 50 years and served as Conference leadership in Central Atlantic, Minnesota, Ohio and Florida. He also served churches in Pennsylvania and New York. In Florida since 1988, he was a member of Lakewood UCC in St. Petersburg, where his daughter, the Rev.  Kim Wells, is pastor. A memorial service will be held on June 9.


The Rev. Hartland Helmich, 81, who died January 28, served the UCC in both the former Office of Lay Life and Work and the Office for Higher Education. A former pastor of First Reformed UCC in Lancaster, Pa.  for 10 years, he had earlier on the staff of the National Council of Churches, the Student Christian Movement, and as chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania. Helmich was listed among 50 of the most influential UCC members in "UCC@50," the denomination's commemorative anniversary book, for his leadership on lay member involvement. A memorial service was held March 31 in Lancaster, Pa.


Margaret R. Blemker, the first female area executive to serve with the former United Church Board for World Ministries, died in early February. She served as Middle East Executive for 34 years, from 1946-80. In retirement she lived at UCC-related Pilgrim Place in Claremont, Calif.


The Rev. Kent J. Siladi, who served for nearly 10 years as the Connecticut Conference's South Central Regional Minister, was elected Florida Conference Minister on March 17. "The discernment process … has led to the clear conclusion that Kent is the person God intends to lead the Conference into the years ahead," wrote the Rev. Kim Wells, Conference moderator. "His experience in ministry, love of the United Church of Christ, and enthusiasm for the unique opportunities for ministry in Florida highly commend him for this call." Siladi begins his new ministry this month.

Pastoral Changes

Barton, Jeffrey D. to UCC, Lake Oswego, OR
Borden, Carleton to Cong. UCC, Valley City, N.D.
Cribbs, Arthur L. San Diego, CA to Cong. UCC, San Marino, CA
Detterman, Susan to St. Mark UCC, Valrico, FL
Geary, Jennifer T. to interim, United UCC, Irasburg, VT
Granger, Carol A. Pittsfield, ME to United UCC, Clinton, MA
Halvorsen, Ronald E. to First Cong. UCC, Old Greenwich, CT
Heckman, Randy A. Cape Girardeau, MO to Union Cong. UCC, Moline, IL
Kent, Laura L. to interim, Cong. UCC, North Pomfret, VT
Lumsden, James E. Tucson, AZ to First UCC, Pittsfield, MA
Lutz, Brad to Union Cong. UCC, West Palm Beach, FL
Martin, Leslie E. to Federated Church, Livingston, N.J.
Martin, Wayne to interim, Cong. UCC, Lincoln City, OR
McCusker, Jean to Cong. UCC, Ellington, CT
Miller, Karla J. Medford, MA to Eliot UCC, Newton, MA
Miner, Curtis Clarion, IA to Cong. UCC, San Luis Obispo, CA
Moore, Bonnie L. Chalfont, PA to Shenkel UCC, Pottstown, PA
Mulford, William R. to interim, Chapel on the Hill UCC, Seminole, FL
Niederfrank, Donald Erin, WI to St. John's UCC, Random Lake, WI
Pilletere, Mark D. Taftville, CT to Mill Plain Union, Waterbury, CT
Reynolds, Millie to First Cong. UCC, Royalton, VT
Shupe, Paul C. Famlouth, ME to Lake Edge, Madison, WI
Sichta, Robert D. to Cong. UCC, Barneveld, WI
Smith, Dan J., Centre Hall, PA to Zion Evangelical UCC, St. Joseph, MI
Strever, Wayne A. Southwick, MA to Second Cong. UCC, Stafford Springs, CT
White, Derek L. to Central Cong., Providence, R.I.
Williams, Jackson L. Berwick, ME to United Parish, Winchendon, MA

Information on pastoral changes provided by the UCC's Parish Life and Leadership Ministry.

Clergy Deaths

Balfe, Robert S., 84, 4/5/2007
Barth, Thomas E., 62, 3/22/2007
Bartholomew, Carroll E., 72, 3/10/2007
Beining, Elmer W., 81, 3/10/2007
Chapman, May R., 70, 4/20/2007
Davis, John P., 61, 3/17/2007
Fisher, Ernest B., 93, 2/14/2007
Frankenfeld, Paul H., 85, 3/16/2007
Getz, Pierce A., 77, 3/30/2007
Harding, Robert J., 85, 3/20/2007
Heverly, Harris, E., 93, 3/17/2007
Higuchi, Shinpei, 83, 3/10/2007
Jones, Donald A., 78, 3/4/2007
Keeler, William O., 90, 4/3/2007
Keeney, William F., 88, 3/9/2007
Klasing, Raymond W.F., 77, 4/11/2007
Kuppinger, Edmund, 97, 3/31/2007Lehman, Donald F., 78, 3/17/2007
Mentzer, Junior C., 81, 4/18/2007
Missirlian, Harry M., 94, 4/11/2007
Newell, Gordon, 89, 3/14/2007
Norman, James C., 69, 3/25/2007
Priem, Roy I., 76, 1/15/2007
Roberts, Arthur W., 77, 4/18/2007
Ronander, Albert C., 92, 3/16/2007
Schiltz, Karl F., 60, 3/26/2007
Schumacher, Frederick T., 84, 3/14/2007
Skeirik, Albert J., 88, 3/7/2007
Slotten, Ralph, 80, 2/12/2007
Terpstra, Chester, 89, 4/12/2007
Trimble, James C., 86, 3/2/2007
Wright, William C., 81, 3/14/2007
Zinn, J. Robert, 78, 3/11/2007

Information on clergy deaths is provided by the UCC's Pension Boards. 


Rev. J. Bennett Guess
Executive Minister, Local Church Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115