News Briefs
March 2001

Insurance Board celebrates successful year

The UCC Insurance Board is now handling all property and liability insurance for the UCC's national offices, said Michael A. Downs, UCCIB Executive Director, at the Board's annual meeting in February in Albuquerque. The consolidation is another effect of the restructured national setting, and offers significant economic benefits in service, product and pricing, said Downs.

The UCCIB provides insurance coverage for 38 of the 39 UCC conferences (for legal reasons, Puerto Rico is excluded) and 55 percent of UCC congregations. It also provides coverage for the Office of the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 352 Disciples churches and 24 out of 35 of their regional offices and related operations. The Board's programs cover 3,682 local UCC and Disciples churches, with a total value of more than $5.8 billion.

Evangelism section launched on UCC website

The Evangelism Ministry Team of the UCC's Local Church Ministries, in conjunction with the Office of General Ministries web development team, has launched new and expanded evangelism information and resources on the UCC website The evangelism section includes an introduction/overview, mission-related information, staff directories, event listings, updated resources and FAQs. A highlight of the expanded coverage is a forums area where local church leaders can share ideas and stories about evangelism, renewal and church growth. To access the evangelism section, click the "Churches" tab on the UCC homepage, then click the "Evangelism" button on the left-side directory listings.

North Carolina vote

Last month's account of the vote in the Eastern North Carolina Association of the Southern Conference to deny standing to North Raleigh UCC had the vote count wrong. The actual vote was 85 in favor, 105 against. Since that vote, the Association held a day-long gathering of clergy on Feb. 10 to discuss the issues involved and has scheduled a similar gathering for laity on March 31.

"The clergy gathering was a day of great hope," says the Rev. Beth Kennett, the ENCA's Minister for Church Life and Education.

Lift up poverty, health care on Health and Welfare Sunday

The UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries is asking local churches to lift up the "twin scandals" of poverty and health care on Health and Welfare Sunday, March 11. Currently, 36 million people in the United States live in poverty and 45 million lack health care.To order a Twin Scandals Organizing Kit, "What You and Your Church Can Do," log on to or phone Jim Stewart at 617-661-1873.

UCC support staff to meet

Support staff persons working in the local, association, conference or national settings of the UCC are invited to attend the 2001 annual meeting of the Office Support Staff Network, April 20-22 at the Syracuse (N.Y.) Radisson Hotel and nearby Plymouth Congregational UCC. Keynote speaker for the conference, titled "Humor and Spirituality: It Feeds the Soul," is Shirley Mahood, author of "Making Our Lives Work: Strategies to Lessen Stress and Build Self-Esteem." For registration or information, phone 618-654-2125; or visit the UCC website, click on "Links," then "UCC-related Ministries," then "Office Support Staff Network."

Turkish missionary institute now run by graduates

The American Collegiate Institute in Izmir, Turkey, founded in 1878, is now transitioning to be completely run by its Turkish graduates. The experience of Christians living in a relationship of sharing and service with Muslims has benefitted all, says Ken Frank, a Common Global Ministries missionary in Turkey and superintendent of the school. The school currently is seeking certified instructors to aid in the transition. Openings exist on the elementary and secondary levels in English, math, science, art, music and physical education. Two sister schools, in Uskudar (a suburb of Istanbul) and Tarsus, also have openings. For information, contact Ken Frank via e-mail or visit

Grassroots interfaith North American summit set for Utah

The United Religions Initiative (URI), a global network of grassroots-based interfaith groups, is holding its first North American summit, "Circles in Motion—Gifts to Share," May 31-June 4, at the 2002 Olympic Village on the campus of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

Registration (which includes 11 meals) is $250. Discount housing in the Olympic Village is available. For information, contact Kay Lindahl, URI-North America, P.O. Box 6071, Laguna Niquel, CA 92607; phone 949-661-3087; fax 949-496-5535; e-mail; or visit and click on the "North America" regional link.

WCC membership hits 342

Nine churches were recently accepted as new members of the World Council of Churches, bringing membership in the world's largest ecumenical organization to 342 churches, including 35 associate member churches. The new member churches range from one on the Pacific island of Niue with 1,500 members to a Namibian church with more than 500,000 members.