Rebranded webinar series will ‘Nurture the Soul’ starting May 4

A popular webinar series that accompanied the wider United Church of Christ through the COVID-19 pandemic is getting a refresh.

Starting Thursday, May 4, the new weekly series, “Nurture the Soul,” will begin programming. It will replace the regular “Thursdays for the Soul” webinars.

“The series remains grounded in embodied discipleship, education and formation around issues and practices important to the UCC, but accessible during and outside the regular gathering time,” said the Rev. Tracy Howe, Faith, Education, Innovation and Formation (Faith INFO) team leader. “The name change carries over the foundations of the webinar series but invites more flexibility and possibility around engaging this dynamic resource.”

Each Thursday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET, “Nurture the Soul” will feature hosts from the Faith INFO team, as well as folks from across Justice and Local Church Ministries.

Its first episode, “Sacred Reckonings,” is a conversation between Associate General Minister the Rev. Traci Blackmon and the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, a UCC pastor who has worked for 35 years as an activist, trainer and theologian. These two UCC powerhouses will discuss “white settler-colonizer churches doing the work of reparations,” according to the event description.

Following the opening May 4 webinar, Howe will host a three-part series on local church security.

Deeper engagement

“Nurture the Soul” combines the legacies of weekly webinars that, beginning in 2020, fed UCC hearts and spirits.

“Faith INFO launched two different regular gathering times for the whole church at the start of the COVID pandemic, ‘Tuesdays for Nurture’ and ‘Thursdays for the Soul,’” said Howe. “These provided critical, regular virtual spaces for gathering, education, spiritual formation and journeying together in what was unprecedented.

“Over the last three years, the webinar space has changed as it responded to feedback and the ongoing needs of our local churches and greater denomination. We have learned that this space continues to provide a regular time of gathering, but has also come to be a recognized and widely used resource outside of that regular time slot, with most people accessing the content asynchronously through our YouTube channel.”

A trailer for the rebranded series proclaims, “We will be free.”

The rebrand comes with a new emphasis on miniseries. Besides special occasions — such as the May 4 kickoff — most “Nurture the Soul” episodes will be part of a series. For several consecutive weeks, presentations will focus on a particular topic. The May 11, 18 and 25 events, for instance, will center around “Security and Faith.”

“We are attempting more depth around the content by creating multi-webinar series during each season, though the general format and quality content should feel familiar,” Howe said. “The intentional series will serve for deeper engagement that simply cannot be achieved in a single, hour-long webinar. We also hope it allows communities or cohorts of people of faith to use the content more in their own education and discipleship work, re-watching the content with relevant committees, spiritual formation or justice groups, for example.”

Robust programming

Between the various series, “Nurture the Soul” will sprinkle in special programs with the UCC Officers and other prominent guests. A schedule is being formed for the remainder of the year, except for a pause during the Thursdays immediately before and after General Synod 34, which runs June 30-July 4.

“Thursdays for the Soul” initially was slated to return in April after a Lenten break. However, the team determined the time was right for a relaunch. As Howe settled into her new role as Faith INFO team leader, May 4 became the target start date.

Sacred Reckonings,” a conversation on reparations between Rev. Traci Blackmon and Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, will kickoff “Nurture the Soul” Thursday, May 4 at 3:30 p.m. ET. Register here or the event.

“The quality programing requires a full team of people,” Howe said. “Viewers can look forward to robust regular programing as we have created the infrastructure now to begin again.”

“Sacred Reckonings” will provide such robust programming, as Blackmon and Voelkel delve into the topic of reparations. Voelkel currently serves as pastor for justice ministries and director of the Center for Sustainable Justice at Lyndale UCC in Minneapolis. She also is adjunct faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and a member of the MARCH (Multifaith Anti-Racism, Change, and Healing) steering committee.

Register here for the May 4 webinar as the UCC prepares to “nurture the soul.”

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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