God is still speaking through the arts, prayer and paper airplanes
Written by Lee Foley
September 2002

*The Minister of Music at First-Plymouth Congregational UCC in Lincoln, Neb., Jack Levick, is the focus of a nice feature in the Lincoln Journal Star about a local arts festival, Abendmusik: Lincoln. The highly successful and diverse program is entering its 30th season and the paper sums up its creation and success, concluding, "Abendmusik pretty much begins and ends with John M. Levick Jr." The article tells of Levick's arrival at First-Plymouth in1972 and almost immediately approaching the pastor, the Rev. Otis Young, about starting a concert series. From that beginning, it has grown into a civic treasure with a budget of $155,000 matched with another $125,000 of in-kind contributions from the church, according to the Journal Star. Many of the performances are conducted right at the church. The story says, "This season will be like the others before it. The nine-concert series includes a world-class organist, an 11-voice male a cappella group and an eight-string chamber ensemble.">

*A prayer written by the senior UCC chaplain on active duty in the U.S. Navy, Capt. Jane Vieira, has been published in the professional journal, The Navy Chaplain. It was part of a story about the May 13th celebration marking the 94th anniversary of the founding of the Navy Nurse Corps. Navy Chaplains went from hospital to hospital and base to base to bless the hands of Navy nurses. Capt. Vieira's prayer is a prayer for physicians: "Eternal God, Great Physician, as we bow our heads in prayer, we ask your blessing upon the hands of all physicians ... hands which have held new life and eased pain, which have offered compassion in life's darkest moments, performed surgeries and administered medicine, anointed the sick and bandaged the wounded, comforted the dying and held the dead. Blessed be the hands of all physicians, Lord, for they do the work of your hands. Amen.">

*Members, many of them teenagers, from a brand new church, Spirit of Joy UCC in Mount Airy, Md., recently used a unique method of attracting visitors to the booth that the church, the Catoctin Association and the Central Atlantic Conference sponsored at a rock concert at Washington's RFK Stadium. They launched paper airplanes into the crowd telling those who picked them up to stop by the booth for free sun block and candy. According to a story in the Carrol County (Md.) Times, the approach drew hundreds to the church's booth. One member, Rob Walty, is quoted as saying he personally talked with 250 to 300 concert goers. The colorful paper airplanes, when unfolded, incorporated the UCC's new identity campaign, "God is Still Speaking.">

*The passage of a resolution encouraging member churches to be open and affirming at the Vermont Conference Annual Meeting made the front page of The Burlington Free Press two days later, on June 10. Conference Minister the Rev. Arnold Thomas writes us, saying, "The decision to become an open and affirming conference marked the climax of a three-year dialogue that involved all perspectives on this important matter." The news account says the resolution was rewritten several times "in an effort to find common ground between liberal and conservative factions within the UCC." It called the discussions emotional, but civil. In the end, according to the newspaper article, the vote wasn't close, 270-93.

*The picture on the front page of the national edition of this paper last month bears a mention after all the calls, letters and e-mail we've received about it. No, the guy to the left of the lady talking with the kids is not on his cell phone. He's Roger Bosse, past president of the church council, according to senior pastor the Rev. David Young at First Congregational UCC in Battle Creek, Mich., where the picture was taken. Says Young, "He (Bosse) would never use a cell phone during worship, though we have been teasing him about it ever since." What you see is the wall behind Bosse through the hole formed by his thumb and fingers as he scratches his face. Those of you who think he's on the phone can't be blamed. We got out our spy glass, of the Sherlock Holmes type, and only then convinced ourselves that what the camera captured was an itch being scratched and not a phone being answered.

Has your local church "made the news" lately? Send news articles to Clippings, United Church News, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Lee Foley was a TV news director before joining the UCC's Proclamation, Identity and Communication Ministry last fall.

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