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The Congregationalist September 2021

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SEPTEMBER 2021 VOL 173 NO 3 THE EMOTIONAL LIFE Of Your Pastor COMMUNITY Garden RACISM REFECTIONS The Gospel A Contact Sport Published by the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches c o n g r e g a t i o n a l i s t o r g

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Table of CONTENTS Features 4 New Lay Ministry Training Program ON THE COVER By Rev Pastor Linda L Hauschild Gahanna Community Congregational Church plants a garden with the community 6 8 11 We handle financial matters So you can pay attention to what really matters For over 100 years MMBB has helped churches and faith based organizations build flexible and affordable retirement benefit plans financial solutions that help clergy find the best path forward With MMBB as your partner you can focus on what you do best Serving God and the spiritual needs of your congregation and community Supporting your calling is our calling www mmbb org what we offer 12 14 20 22 24 26 28 for the community Mr Allsbrook By Rev Dr Robert Hellam The Emotional Life of Your Pastor By Rev Dr Tim Roberts Jared s Hope By Pastor James Macarille Community Garden By Rev Robb Tarr Racism Reflections By Rev Arlin Larson Zooming in on the NACCC Citizens with the Saints One Day Silent Retreat The Broken Font By Dr Michael Wayne Glidden The Gospel is a Contact Sport By Rev Barry W Szymanski J D Three Historical Phrases Still Relevant Today By Rev Rob Fredrickson Departments 9 18 23 30 31 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR NEWS NEEDS AND PRAYERS OF OUR MISSIONS FROM THE NACCC STAFF PASTORATES AND PULPITS CALENDAR EDITORIAL STATEMENT All content in The Congregationalist appears by the authority of the editor We reserve freedom of expression to our authors and freedom of opinion to our readers Except for service information clearly sponsored by the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches NACCC or its component parts content does not necessarily reflect policies and opinions of the NACCC Neither The Congregationalist nor the NACCC has a creed or holds positions on social or theological issues but we recognize the authority of each local church to do so for itself if and as it wishes and we encourage thoughtful and respectful discussion of our agreements and differences

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A NewLay Ministry Training Program By Rev Pastor Linda L Hauschild M y faith journey started when I was young in a rural Methodist Church After I got married I joined a small Congregational church in Iowa When my husband suddenly died a whole new chapter in my life started I was involved in all areas of the church for years Christian education was a huge part of my life God put the lay ministry on my heart over a period of time I struggled at times within a small congregation for spiritual growth but reached out to other programs It was during my years volunteering with the Beginning Experience Ministry for divorced and widowed people that I really felt God calling me into some sort of ministry From that experience I learned a lot about myself and gained understanding for others dealing with loss I received the application for the Lay Ministry Program but set it aside procrastinated and found other avenues for learning Each experience was inspirational and influenced my life of faith Still the Lay Ministry Program was calling me and I decided it was now or never Not knowing where it would lead me I filled out the application and was accepted in 2009 I was blessed to have received Reverend Jerry Chase as my mentor and we worked well together He was always 4 stretching me to understand why I believed what I do He would ask for clarification of what I was writing Rev Chase encouraged and challenged me which helped me to stay on task to complete the program The first assignment was in history not my favorite subject in school and there was some difficult reading but Rev Chase stood with me If it wasn t for him I might have thrown in the towel I told him many times he would be my mentor for life Marie Steele at the Olivet office also would clarify any questions I had about any assignment I completed the program in December 2012 The Lay Ministry Training Program was fabulous for me I provided pulpit supply at two small local churches for a few years Then in June of 2015 I took early retirement from the school and that August I received a call to serve as pastor at First Congregational Church in Elkader Iowa I accepted the call It was God leading and working in my life With a vicinage council on April 29 2017 I was ordained I love my congregation and serving God to the best of my ability With the New Lay Ministry Program there will be a variety of educated teachers professors to work with Some of them I have met personally through annual meetings or the Boston Seminar There will also be other students to interact with The students will also have a mentor to provide encouragement and to check in with I believe the fellowship will contribute a positive element to the new program as well There are many small churches who need pastors or even associate pastors I learned quickly that there is no such thing as a part time pastor though So if God is calling you nudging you listen and follow His lead fill out the application Regardless of your age I believe it will be a fulfilling adventure wherever God takes you Reverend Linda Hauschild is pastor of First Congregational Church in Elkader Iowa She completed the Lay Ministry Training Program received her certificate and was called to be pastor in 2015 She was ordained in 2017 with a vicinage council She currently serves on the committee for the revised NACCC Lay Ministry Training Program N AC C C A N N UA L M E E T I NG CO N F E R E NC E J U NE 2 5 2 8 2 0 2 2 W I C H I TA K A N SAS And the Greatest of These is Love 1 CORINTHIANS 13 13 L ove Ta l k s L ove o f G o d D i a n a B ut l e r Ba s s d i a n a b utlerb ass co m Love of Neigh bor Valarie Kau r va l ariekaur co m Love of Self Mih ee Kim Kort m kim ko rt co m C o n g re gat i o n a l Ta l k A s h l ey C l e e re n a ccc o rg n ew exe cutive dire cto r Ve nue Drury Pl a za Ho te l Bro a dv iew Wich ita dr ur yh otel s com l ocation s wich ita ks dr ur y p l aza h otel b ro a d vi ew w i c hi t a HOSTED BY P LY MOU T H CONG R EGAT I ONA L C H U RC H U N I V E RS I T Y CONG R EGAT I ONA L C H U RC H 5

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M r C A l l s b r o o k urtis Allsbrook was a large muscular man of about average height He was a retired Army sergeant who spoke with a deep voice in a gentle Southern accent He loved the Lord Jesus with all his big heart He was a dedicated son of the Church who was always finding ways to be helpful around the building and grounds and to be friendly and kind to everyone he met He and his wife Annie were also devoted to each other and when she died before he did he was really at a loss about how to cope with the everyday issues of life for some time Others called him Curtis but to me he was always Mr Allsbrook When I met him I was a rather new Christian even though I was in my early thirties I had been saved about a month before in a United Methodist church in another community so when I returned to my hometown of Seaside California I naturally joined the United Methodist church there the same church I had attended as a rather irreverent teenager And I still felt pretty young in those later days certainly too young to call this dignified old man by his first name Hilltop United Methodist Church formerly Seaside Methodist Church was the oldest church and for many years the only church in Seaside Interestingly its beginnings were back in the late nineteenth century The Reverend Dr Robert Hellam is senior pastor at Church of the Oaks in Del Rey Oaks California In addition he served as a chaplain captain with the California State Military Reserve from 2011 through 2015 with prior active duty as an enlisted man in the U S Navy Bob earned his BA in English and his teaching credential from San Jos State University his Master of Divinity degree from Western Seminary and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Trinity Theological Seminary Bob is a member of the Monterey Bay Colony of the Society of Mayflower Descendants the Nims Family Association the Plapp Family Association and American Legion Post 591 He lives in Seaside California with his wife Connie by Rev Dr Robert Hellam as a Congregational Sunday School class When Mr Allsbrook had retired from the Army and was looking for a church in Seaside a well meaning member of Hilltop Church said to him Oh I m sorry You must be looking for the Colored Methodist Church Even if that statement was meant to be helpful it was not taken very well Mr Allsbrook determined then and there to become a member of Hilltop Church and to look no further No one was going to tell him where he should worship the Lord Later when we became close Mr Allsbrook confided to me Actually on that day being new in town I really was looking for the Colored Methodist Church But that fellow just rubbed me the wrong way Our pastor Rev Joe Parshall told me Curtis never tells that detail to anyone but a very few You are privileged As an aside after retiring from the United Methodist Church Joe became a Congregationalist minister and was my predecessor as senior pastor at Church of the Oaks Annie or Mrs Allsbrook as I called her was an African American woman who had been very light skinned as a younger woman While Mr Allsbrook was stationed overseas she developed a serious health condition One side effect of the medication for her condition was that it caused her complexion to change to a very dark brown almost literally black The doctor failed to diagnose the condition at first because after all the ailment affected only black people and he didn t realize that this rather palefaced lady was of African descent Finally the condition was alleviated with the medication but the very dark skin remained Mrs Allsbrook tried to inform her husband in letters Well known for her sense of humor she gave him hints like The darker the fruit the sweeter the taste and other such sayings He didn t get it But he was in no way disappointed when he came home to meet his wife once again Skin color absolutely did not matter to Curtis Allsbrook who was himself very dark The story being told in those days in the early 1980 s and earlier that every African American who had a European last name was bearing a slave name was offensive to Mr Allsbrook He told me I grew up in Virginia and so did my ancestors for many generations As far as I know our name was always Allsbrook I don t see it as a slave name It s just my name Once early in our acquaintance Connie my wife and I overheard Mr Allsbrook say to his wife about me That boy s going to be a pastor someday Connie and I were very skeptical about that statement But Mr Allsbrook was either naturally very prescient or he had had a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit His favorite color was purple His house was painted purple So was his lodge where he was one of the leaders He was a Freemason a member of a Masonic order often called the black Masons One Christmas he gave me a purple tie I wear it on all special occasions connected with ministry for instance when I graduated with my MDiv when I was ordained when I earned my DMin Mr Allsbrook loved to cook He would often prepare soul food dishes for us at the church He also had Connie and me over to his house for supper On his last Sunday on earth he prepared a feast for us after morning worship with ribs and fried chicken and collard greens and several other Southern dishes It was delicious We all loved the meal and of course the whole church loved Curtis Allsbrook On that Sunday I thought Mr Allsbrook looked really tired I told him I d help him to clean up after the meal In fact I insisted But he just as insistently told me he didn t want me to do that The last words he ever said to me were these No you re still young You have things to do You don t want to waste your time like that But me I m retired I ve got all the time in the world Seeking a Full time Senior Minister First Congregational Church Spencer IA The First Congregational Church of Spencer joyfully worships and praises God Bound by our covenant we strive to be the Body of Christ throughout the world by loving helping and supporting our church family and others through fellowship missions and outreach Our philosophy encourages all people to experience God s grace by freely thinking and building personal relationships with Christ to the glory of God LEARN MORE ABOUT FCC SPENCER Visit our website www congospencer org See our Church Information Form through the NACCC naccc org Contact us at info congospencer org 6 7

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THE EMOTIONAL LIFE The Reverend Dr Tim Roberts is the Senior Pastor at Stuart Congregational Church Stuart Florida He is married to Lisa Roberts who serves as the Director of Worship Technology They are blessed with four children and three grandchildren OF YOUR PASTOR By the Rev Dr Tim Roberts I t s complicated The emotional juggling act of your pastor that is Why Because the emotional dynamics of a pastor are unlike any other crisis intervention specialist or helping professional To explain let me describe my recent emotional awakening On October 29 2020 I received a harrowing phone call from my sister My brother in law Darel had suddenly and unexpectedly died Shock set in Then waves of grief and disbelief washed over me He was only 58 years old But as the reality set in I was surprised at how deeply I grieved his death I hadn t grieved like that in a long while And I am used to dealing with death and dying I have done more than 160 funerals have sat at the beside of many folks as they drew their last breath have anointed numerous dead bodies have intervened in tragic suicide situations have visited countless individuals in critical care units and in hospice units It may be fair to say I am an expert in dealing with death and the dying So why was I so overwhelmed with grief I genuinely grieved the loss of my brother in law I loved Darel He and I go way back to my junior high school days when he and my sister started 8 dating Darel was very much like a big brother to me I miss him and I lament that at such a young age he was suddenly evacuated from my life and from our family But my grief was the result of something more Like a dam that breaks because it is beyond its capacity to contain water my grief over Darel was the collection of all the moments of loss and heartache I had absorbed professionally The emotional dam even of a professional can only take so much before it bursts For thirty years as a pastor I have been the one who is strong hopeful and clear headed in the face of stifling loss In my church community and family I have been the go to person to lead through the many crises I have officiated the funerals of my mother father aunt grandfather grandmother fatherin law and even my four year old nephew I know the pain of holding a dead newborn baby of watching a tenyear old take his final breath and of saying goodbye to a heart transplant recipient whose last words to me were Tim you and I are hooked together at the heart It is obvious that I would have a deep emotional connection to family members but it is the relational connection to church members that makes the difference between a pastor and all other helping professionals Think about it Other professionals have a seasonal or transactional relationship with their care recipients A doctor sees you once or twice a year on a normal basis A counselor works with you until you are graduated from a crisis A nurse paramedic or police officer intervenes during the emergency but then no longer You don t carry on a week to week ongoing relationship with these professionals Their emotional investment in you is limited You are their client not a social friend or personal confidant They also do not typically interact with your entire family unit generation to generation They do not share meals with you or sacramental moments or join you in the ongoing life of a community Pastors are uniquely vulnerable compared to other helping professionals Why Because of the perpetual and generational nature of the pastoral relationship Your pastor is invested in all of your life every day and that includes each of your family members too You will receive a final invoice from your counselor or from your doctor You will not continue in a relationship with the emergency 911 operator or with a police officer or a nurse They are invested in your short term sporadic care needs The relationships with such professionals are transactional and so they are less emotionally invested in you and your day to day life Not so with your pastor Your pastor is invested in every aspect of your life and of your family s life from cradle to grave Your pastor carries the memories and the burdens associated with all of your brokenness losses pains failures and fears Your pastor prays for you loves you and crafts his or her time and message around your unique emotional relational and spiritual needs When you are tempted to take your pastor for granted remember the unique and unending relationship he or she has with you and your family When you have a weekend off every week remember that your pastor never has a regular weekend off Don t pity your pastor but support and pray for your pastor Advocate for a regular sabbatical leave for your pastor Encourage his or her mental and emotional well being recognizing the emotional life of your pastor is unlike anyone else you know Southwick CC FCC FCCWestfield Westfield Massachusetts Churches Seek Full time Settled Minister Southwick Congregational Church and First Congregational Church of Westfield Massachusetts hope to share a settled minister Westfield affiliated with both NACCC and UCC and Southwick affiliated with UCC are about six miles apart and enjoy a collegial relationship Our two sister churches find joy in service to one another the wider community and the abundant life of God We are looking forward to this new adventure For information contact Martha Goodman Search and Call Associate for UCC searchcall sneucc org and access UCC org What We Do MESA Ministry Opportunities 9

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I agree THE CONGREGATIONALIST magazine is a kitchen table become heated at times happens because we re human beings expressing venue for discussing matters affecting our daily lives I also agree with God given feelings Not unlike Jesus Emanuel God With Us did in his Larry Sommers the Cadman Memorial Church deserves acknowledgement lifetime Interesting true fact silence often has the inclination of being for bringing racism and social justice to the table for discussion Kudos violent doing violence to the association s resolution to start this Congregational dialogue WE CAN DO THIS IF WE WANT TO Confidently trusting our beginnings are necessary Also kudos to the writers of the March 2021 Creator God and the Holy Spirit gifted to us then choosing to courageously CONGREGATIONALIST issue they did a commendable job making their march in God s rag tag 21st century army will profoundly shift our case on these important and complicated race and social justice issues troubled world toward healing I think God awaits humanity s decision I believe with all my heart it is mandatory to listen to one another in Do you agree order to achieve understanding Listening with open mind and caring heart is not easy it is downright difficult As a twenty first century Christian I Marian Blahnik FCC Mansfield OH am interested in the Church moving forward Genuine dialogue which may Seeking an Interim Minister for a Village Church in a Vibrant City First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa Wisconsin a suburban Milwaukee area church invites a nurturing individual with the leadership capabilities to help shepherd our church through our upcoming transitional period After many years of service our senior minister will be retiring at year end We seek spiritual guidance and support as we explore our shared church future At First Church Tosa we have celebrated over 175 years in service to God and our greater community by sharing in our covenant As followers of Jesus Christ we commit ourselves to share in the worship and service of God to grow in the knowledge and expression of our faith to reach out with compassion to those in need to treat each other with love and understanding and to HOPE Letters To The Editor for drug addiction I Greetings want to introduce myself My name is James Macarille I am the Pastor of the 1st Congregational Church in Saugerties NY Seven years ago we lost our son to the disease of drug addiction As many who have gone through this we struggled with what to do to help him We waffled between tough love pushing him and his disease away to embracing him giving him money and trying to get him to rehab I admit that we were blind to what he was using and how bad it had gotten Unfortunately his disease had too great a hold and he succumbed to an overdose In the time since his passing we have talked with many who have gone through the same circumstances in their families Again I admit we had no understanding of how widespread this problem is Many we talked to have said they did not know where to turn They did not want to call a number in the phone book Many said they were embarrassed by their loved one s disease and didn t know who to talk with And many of these same people have said they would have liked to turn to their faith leaders but didn t know how to approach them with this issue We know this issue is not limited to any social group or faith group The disease of addiction affects everyone As faith leaders I hope and pray we can be a point of hope for those in our congregations and communities that struggle with addiction To that end we are asking your church to join us in making the Sunday of October 24 2021 a day of prayer dedicated to this issue We ask that you and your church offer prayers for the afflicted to see what is happening and to find the strength to seek help prayers for the families and friends of the afflicted that they find continued strength and hope to help their loved one find help and prayers of comfort uplift and support for those like our family that have been left behind by the loss of a loved one to the tragedy of this disease Thank you for your time your consideration and your prayers If you have questions concerns or comments please reach me at jvmac2 aol com Please put Jared s Hope as the subject God bless you Pastor James Macarille return to God a portion of God s gifts LEARN MORE 10 Visit firstchurchtosa org Email jim firstchurchtosa org or Access our complete profile at naccc org 11

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COMMUNITY GARDEN I n his over nine decades of life Bruce Daily has spent more than his fair share of time figuring out what helps things grow and what can hinder that process A retired hospital lab director he also spent time overseeing a large produce garden at a mission in Kentucky and still regularly helps maintain the grounds at a farm run by Dominican sisters where he lives in Gahanna Ohio On this bright morning in May he s holding court in the lawn between two parking lots of his home church Gahanna Community Congregational Church that now hosts a garden that grows produce for the local food bank GRIN He s flanked by the church s new Ministry Assistant Robin Clossman Wright and encircled by a couple dozen pre teen Girl Scouts and juniors and seniors in high school There s a notable extra energy in the air enjoying a sunny day after a long run of gray thankfulness for more activities opening as Covid restrictions are able to loosen excitement in meeting new people and satisfaction that the work about to begin is towards a good cause This intergenerational blending of church members and community groups isn t completely rare around our communities but is perhaps less common than many of us would hope Yet for Bruce s church affectionately called GC3 for short by its members this scene and the garden that made it possible represent the sprouting of an encouraging and beautiful new season in striving to be a vital sustaining church family together When Covid 19 started to spread around the United States widely last spring it brought along a lot of emotions with the risks to public health We were fearful about getting sick mournful for the increasing loss of life worried about economic impacts discouraged about needing to distance from loved ones and take a break from favorite activities including participating in some aspects of church and uncertain about what was to come Many people also felt resolution and responsibility though At GC3 this began to strengthen especially at the time the first relief checks went out A decent number of members were not experiencing dramatic economic impact from the virus and shutdown and so there was money that felt extra and unexpected Church members began looking for ways what they had could be helpful to those who were being more negatively impacted Conversations popped up at first just looking 12 The Reverend Robb Tarr has been pastor at Gahanna Community Congregational Church Columbus Ohio since 2019 and works with faith based non profit organizations that help bring the experience of God s Kingdom to more of our world He is a graduate of Florida State University and Fuller Theological Seminary and combines faith and theology with an understanding of media and culture He and wife Wendy have two children Aislynn and Coen by Rev Robb Tarr for ideas and then wondering if people banded together could their impact be maximized for both immediate and long term issues in the community As these discussions progressed GC3 members looked to identify potential projects and partners in the community that would align with those goals Gahanna Residents in Need GRIN the local food pantry emerged as a compelling option GRIN and GC3 had a longstanding relationship mainly related to donating food and fundraising GRIN shared that they were seeing an immediate spike in need during the pandemic and that they had been seeing their sources of fresh healthy produce decline and become more inconsistent even before the pandemic GRIN s circumstances stood out among the options the church was considering and it seemed that a call might be emerging GC3 s relatively new pastor Robb Tarr he had been at the church for not quite six months when the significant impacts of the pandemic began being felt in Ohio convened the church s leaders and members who had expressed interest in joining forces to give back to discern a vision to move forward with This was a chance to really follow through on leadings GC3 had been feeling from God for a while When they were doing the pastor search that resulted in Robb s hiring the church was mindful that they cared a lot about service building relationships in the community and offering welcome and belonging to new people but that they like many churches had often felt more comfortable focusing on the internal life of the church and had a lot of room to improve living out their other faith values in tangible ways Robb has worked as both a parish pastor and in faith based non profits and community organizing groups and so sees fostering connections between churches and the community and serving churches feeling a sense of transition as being his primary callings This is what made pastor and church feel like the right fit for each other and now an opportunity to follow God s leadings and fulfill the hopes of the type of community they really wanted to be was really presenting itself When the church began discussing a deepened partnership with GRIN many of those gathered realized it could mean following God down a path that hadn t been anticipated at first The initial thought of bundling extra stimulus money from members that might most naturally lend itself to a special donation was suddenly turning into a project something that would change the church s time commitments and physical appearance on an ongoing basis Still a produce garden that could donate all of its harvest to fight food insecurity in partnership with GRIN kept standing out as something worth pursuing A garden could ensure healthy food the neighbors at GRIN could otherwise miss out on A garden could be renewed each year beyond the needs of the pandemic A garden could be a place that fostered other relationships and partnerships with people who share the church s values A garden is a powerful symbol to remind us of the new life God is inviting us to participate in for the church for our neighborhoods and cities for our own lives if we offer the available soil to be tilled If we ve spent almost any time in a church service or a Sunday School class we know how common gardening and agricultural metaphors are in the Bible for learning about our faith We might love psalms proclaiming the beauty and provision of God displayed in nature or the parable of the sower or the images of the tiny mustard seed growing to a giant plant and many branches sustained by one vine that remind us of how God empowers our faith As the Church tries to find its way navigating a changing culture we also know that church planting gets a lot of attention as a way for faith communities to live serve and worship together Interestingly some other very common and powerful biblical gardening metaphors don t always get as much attention in comparison to those It s less common to hear about trimming and pruning that can be seen as an analogy for the work of finding new responsive expressions of the long term vision and values of an organization that looks to sustain itself but a full uprooting wouldn t be appropriate Even less often do we hear about the ideas of grafting as a key approach to establishing and maintaining vital sustainable godly communities A way of being in community where those with roots are eager to share the soil and connections already in place and willing to have their use given new expression by new additions and where those seeking roots don t just want their own space to control but appreciate the value of growing and re vitalizing an ongoing legacy So this spring a lot of planting is going on at Gahanna Community Congregational Church There s fourteen boxes worth of seeds and seedlings of tomatoes peppers peas beans squash onions cucumbers and more There are 46 fence posts for a new 350 foot in perimeter fence There s the investment of funds to make it all happen But there is perhaps even more grafting that will make even more difference in the life of the church and the health of the community There s GC3 GRIN local scout groups high school service clubs local business and foundations and more all grafting together to ensure the garden has more impact than simple donations would allow There s Bruce grafting together his knowledge with the energy of kids a fraction of his age to plant seeds that will grow up healthy and spark new learning and passion There s Robin grafting together with a new church home and a new ministry that invigorates her call and the sense of hope for supporting new people within GC3 There s Colleen Murray a long time GC3 member grafting her friends with her son and his friends by sharing the task of gardening and the value of community service in new ways There s Jay Evans another GC3 leader planting his first ever home grown tomato seedlings and grafting stories and tips with scout moms who have done it before And amongst all of it is the sunlight living water and rich nutrients of God s loving empowering Spirit ensuring hunger is eradicated and new holistic life is experienced 13

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Re ections The Reverend Dr Arlin T Larson served as Historian of the NACCC Co host Chair of 1997 Annual Meeting primary author of the NACCC s Misconduct in Ministry handbook and is a frequent contributor to The Congregationalist He graduated from the University of Redlands and the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and now teaches at Senior College at Belfast Maine Most recently he served First Congregational Church Searsport Maine before retiring in 2013 His wife Sharon is a retired public school teacher By the Rev Arlin Larson L INTRODUCTION ike many in the white majority I find it difficult to speak about racism or even to know what to think The public outcry after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and similar events came as a surprise and shock to many of us older white citizens We grew up during the 60s and thought we had been there done that Wasn t Jim Crow dismantled discrimination outlawed everyone enlightened We liked to think that even though much remained to be done at least progress was being made and was in fact inevitable Now we are reminded once again of the continuing pervasiveness of racial segregation in housing and the church ongoing disparities of wealth income health and education depressed representation in the corridors of influence and power and so forth Also renewed overt hostility to Blacks and other people of color is once again wide spread in our politics It is discouraging However if we were to allow ourselves to be stymied by every discouraging aspect of the human behavior and history life would grind to a halt WHERE I AM COMING FROM We each experience life in our society in different ways some of which we understand and much of which we don t Knowing something of an author s background is helpful in evaluating his or her comments I grew up in a new white working class suburb of Los Angeles five models of houses laid out on a grid miles wide At some point I began wondering why everyone in our town was white and why all the Black kids in the school district apparently went to one high school all the Mexicans as we called them then to another while three others were all white The de facto housing segregation was because the developers of the town put language in the deeds that restricted the development to white people only This was supposedly to protect us from becoming like certain other sections of Los Angeles think Watts Restrictive covenants were widespread and are still written into resale deeds even though they are unenforceable Having a Black high school a Mexican high school and three white high schools was because that is how they had decided where to locate them and set the boundaries My parents were clearly uncomfortable with this but accepted it as a fact of life This was in progressive Southern California that supposedly didn t even have racial laws Fortunately for me our church had ongoing fellowship with the Black Community Churches of Los Angeles There were regular exchanges of ministers and choirs and mixed gatherings at regional and national conferences From there I went on to have a Black African roommate in college live in a predominantly Black section of Chicago take seminary classes from leaders of the national Civil Rights movement live in a racially mixed neighborhood in Washington DC and then in predominantly declared to be and remain for ever herafter absolute slaves and shall follow the condition of the mother and shall be deemed taken reputed and adjudged in law to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors Hispanic El Paso Texas In all these settings I participated in ecumenical clergy and community groups that kept me involved in life beyond my own parish Most recently I served in Midcoast Maine another basically allwhite context where another pressing and not unrelated issue generational rural poverty is at the fore WHAT IS MEANT BY RACISM Prejudicial feelings about the inferiority or superiority of people on the basis of their race are only one side of the coin I am more concerned about the structural situation we face in the United States of generations long deprivation of rights education opportunities income wealth lifespan health and many other measures deriving from the forced importation of African people as slaves as property not persons to provide labor for the tobacco rice and cotton plantations of the southern colonies While in world history slavery was largely based on being taken captive in war American slavery was more pernicious It was based on skin color and consequently inescapable and inheritable To quote the early South Carolina slave laws Be it enacted that all negroes Indians free Indians in amity with this government and negroes mulatos and mestizos who are now free excepted mulatos or mestizos who now are or shall hereafter be in this Province and all their issue and offspring born or to be born shall be and they are hereby REMEMBER THIS IS GOD S WORLD As Christians we are the inheritors of a theological tradition that has much to say about the human condition Theologically speaking racism is something that should not be and cannot be except as a negative warp in God s creation That is not only because it is morally wrong psychologically damaging politically divisive or inefficient in the functioning of society As Christians we believe that God created one human race in His image deriving as Paul says from one ancestor After the Fall humanity divided into separate and often warring nations or peoples but that is always taken as a sign of the worldly or sinful life not a fulfillment of God s intention The divisions are to be overcome In Christ Paul tells us they have been There is no longer Jew or Greek there is no longer slave or free there is no longer male and female for all of you are one in Christ Jesus Further the Revelation tells us that at the wedding feast of the Lamb there will be the healing of the nations How then can something so contrary to the will of God exist at all especially among Christians Racism is not the only contradiction in God s creation but it certainly ranks high among them That is where we need to begin racism is something that is just wrong however we analyze explain or excuse it It is something that given God s power and God s goodness simply should not be Additionally our faith gives us powerful insight into human nature One central insight is that all human beings are sinners In the Fall we arrogated to ourselves the right to determine what is good and what is evil what is to be valued and what is to be shunned What is good for us became the measure never mind our neighbor or the Lord Exploitation of one person by another was the inevitable result Consequently even though racism stands out as a contradiction in God s creation it is entirely to be expected But as Christians haven t we been redeemed and cleansed of the deleterious effects of the Fall Haven t we been born again and become new creations Then how is it we still exhibit all the defects of fallen humanity including racist sentiments and practices This is a mystery a contradiction that each of us must recognize ponder and lament LEARNING FROM OUR HISTORY A combination of the Covid pandemic and preparing to teach a class on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower moved me to undertake a fresh look at early American history It was very enlightening and helped me understand how we got to be in the position we are in Contemporary histories are much Continued 14 15

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Re ections Continued better at examining the shadow side than those we grew up with What struck and amazed me is how easily small groups of European Christians managed in such short order to subdue the entirety of North and South America which at that time were already occupied by millions of Amerindians How could the indigenous peoples allow the Europeans to simply barge in and take over The pandemic pointed to the answer The Americas indigenous peoples had no immunity to a host of Old World diseases that arrived with the Europeans Populations were reduced by up to 90 cultures demoralized weakened and destroyed The conquerors came to extract resources to return to Europe gold silver timber fish furs tobacco rice sugar cane They were for the most part aristocrats who firmly believed that the many should serve the few They ruled over peasants and serfs back home and intended to do the same in the New World The constitution for the original southern colony intended to include what is now the entire southern half of the United States designated that all profits would go to just eight families It further established hereditary serfdom for fellow Europeans white like themselves There was no thought of democracy equality before the law or universal human rights The economics of resource extraction required large labor forces In our Southern colonies the Indians did not prove amenable to forced labor and were driven out killed off or 16 shipped off as slaves to the Caribbean and Europe Neither was there a sufficient supply of people willing to emigrate from Europe as indentured servants The answer was to import captive Africans That legacy was institutionalized in the laws and economic system of early America and has been only slowly dismantled Further the disdain the conquerors felt for the defeated and subjugated peoples African and Indian continues to this day Importantly however the Puritans who settled New England though far from innocent were in significant ways exceptions They came not to conquer but to settle They were not aristocrats but yeoman middle class we would say shopkeepers as denigrated by the aristocratic planters to the south They were committed to work for the common good and to embrace democracy in both church and society In a move that would have been unthinkable back in England or to the planters to the south all adult males on the Mayflower for instance Pilgrims crew and others signed the Mayflower Compact the constitution of Plymouth Colony Though New England was entangled with slavery through the international Atlantic system of trade it was never organized around slavery Its ideals of democracy and the common good would eventually result in New England largely Congregational leading the effort to abolish slavery We in the NACCC however should be aware that our publications were mostly neglectful or dismissive of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960 s What we must recognize today is that the disenfranchisement of African Americans did not end with the Civil War or even with the Civil Rights movement but persists to this very day through continued extra legal practices and under the weight and inertia of past deficits Confronting this history makes it difficult to deny there is a great deal for majority white America to regret and atone for FACTORS HOLDING US BACK WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM Let me mention a couple often overlooked psychological factors that to my mind contribute to making it difficult for white Americans the collectivity of which I am a member to address racism in our society 1 That we like everyone tend to bridle at the implication we have done or are doing anything wrong despite the fact that as Christians we have putatively acknowledged our sinfulness 2 That we tend to feel discriminated against ourselves once tangible remedies benefiting others such as affirmative action come into the picture never mind what injustices were perpetrated in the past Defensiveness seems to be a universal human reaction One might think it would be easier for us Christians to admit that we might have been wrong about some things Perhaps meditating on the well known lines in our prayers forgive us our debts and we have done those things which we ought not to have done and have left undone those things which ought to have been done might help Then to turn to specific needs for repentance from our own memory from the lessons of history and from the witness of those who have suffered as painful as that might be Resentment of benefits going to others also seems universal This is especially true if the benefits are at a remove from the harm that was done as we like to imagine when we think of slavery as the long solved problem of the antebellum South Here knowing the history is essential how the deprivation of one generation leads to the deprivation of that generation s children and to theirs and on and on It is tempting to feel that the enhancement of someone else s life somehow diminishes our own but that feeling must be resisted MOVING FORWARD IN PRACTICAL WAYS These remarks have focused on understanding and conviction How far real understanding and conviction is possible in our society remains debatable Germany has made great strides in coming to terms with the Holocaust through public education Whether the United States has the will to do something similar is questionable Therefore I would like to point to practical steps that might be less controversial One is simply to foster interaction between people of different races and ethnicity on a practical level Churches can do much in this area through joint mission projects such as food cupboards and winterizing houses ecumenical and interfaith celebrations and exchanges of clergy and choirs which meant a lot to me when I was growing up Some gatherings might focus directly on interracial understanding but working together or just sharing stories and concerns in non threatening settings is probably best A second practical area that will help bring us together is public policy Making life better for all who are struggling no matter what their race would go a long way to bringing justice to those who have been shut out Such things as providing universal health care instituting a livable minimum wage equalizing educational funding bolstering protections and benefits for low wage workers increasing enforcement of anti discrimination laws and providing universal preschool education are all things greatly needed in poverty stricken rural white areas such as I live in as well as in distressed inner cities In all cases increasing peoples material position and decreasing their inequality will both reduce stigma and increase dignity and respect Let s do now what we can realistically do That being said Christians are nevertheless called to something greater This is God s world and we Christians are called to its stewardship Picture this First Congregational Church of Salt Lake City Utah Utah s oldest mainline church seeks To emulate the Pilgrims of Plymouth and survive revive and thrive To model the life of Jesus by loving all people and engaging with our community To find strong pastoral leadership to develop a sustainable futur e Will you join us and guide us on our faith journey as we continue to be a welcoming community of faith love tolerance and inclusiveness For more information see our Church Information Form and Profile at naccc org or contact Ken at kwrockwell yahoo com 17

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News Needs and At this training in East Africa a group of women taste chaya and moringa after learning how to grow and prepare a variety of nutritious perennial vegetables request from our WALKING WITH THE NACCC From Reverend Charles Sagay The first picture the NACCC reaffirmed in my mind and spirit is that the Kingdom of God is bigger than our ministries and churches The NACCC emphasizes the Team aspect of the kingdom we all have distinct roles but one goal of making disciples wherever we serve To win the game we must all work together as one I have had the opportunity of meeting wonderful friends who have greatly blessed my life The Annual Meeting is always a time of refreshing in God s presence Walking with the NACCC gives us a great opportunity and allows us to do far more than we would ever be able to do by ourselves Their effective leadership does not only compliment us but facilitates our work and make things easier and lighter for our team Beatrice my assistant commented to a mail Julie sent she said The NACCC is really helping us keep records and bringing more professionalism to our work We are so grateful to God for all the things we have been able to accomplish we have network with churches LOVE WORTH SHARING From Rev Jim Owens Summer is upon us and our summer camps will soon start up The summer camps are important because the children learn life skills as well as have a safe place to spend the summer instead of wandering the streets We continue to seek donations of musical instruments as well as financial assistance to help with the feeding program each day The children can attend cooking classes music classes and arts and craft classes where they learn to make sandals and bracelets We will also offer a soccer camp again this year Thank you for your prayers and support as we minister to the children of Haiti partners and ministries thanks to the NACCC and this has enabled us to meet our goals faster easier and lives are being transformed for God s glory The constant follow up coaching guidance and instructions has really helped our team to be better We have learned a lot from the way the NACCC works and it has made us better as individuals and stronger as a mission If I should make a summary I would say the NACCC is like the backbone of our mission a huge blessing and an indispensable partner that does not only compliment us but is strong in the areas we are weak and encourages our strengths causing us to be better and peculiar in our distinct role in God s Kingdom bringing glory and showing forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light Walking with the NACCC has been a journey of pure delight every moment has been treasured and it keeps on getting better Thank you Reverend Charles Sagay Mission School of Hope Cameroon Africa A CHRISTIAN MINISTRY IN THE NATIONAL PARKS CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF MYANMAR From Amy Kennedy Our team members are arriving in their national parks as we speak The first couple weeks are always the hardest so we need prayer for them to stay encouraged rely on God and stick through the sometimes tough transition We are already hearing encouraging stories of how they are seeing God show up in their relationships and experiences in their jobs Please also pray for my mom brother in law Dan me and my husband Bobby My sisters Lisa and Laurie and baby nephew Milo were killed in a car crash last month From Rev SaDo Grace Children s home is a safeguard for poor destitute and orphaned children We provide food clothing education welfare and healthcare Left to Right Amy Laurie and Milo and Lisa 18 For more information on NACCC missions or to donate please contact Missions Administrator Julie Robie at 800 262 1620 or 603 642 7270 or email jrobie naccc org National Association of Congregational Christian Churches Missions and Outreach Ministry Council PO Box 288 Oak Creek WI 53154 For a complete listing of NACCC Mission Projects or to donate please visit our website www naccc org and click on Missions Outreach ECHO From Alyssa Barrett In places like Arusha Tanzania where 40 of the population primarily children under five were already malnourished the pandemic is causing even more dire food insecurity So during the last several months the ECHO East Africa Impact Center has been focusing on health and nutrition training in and around Arusha More than 26 groups of women and youth have been trained in perennial vegetable gardening with the goal of improving nutrition through household food production in urban gardens One recent trainee Joyce Charles is a mother gardener and hard working entrepreneur We were taught how to produce and prepare perennial vegetables which are high in vitamins and nutrients Joyce said Through this training I will be able to produce these vegetables for my family s use and also for sale This will increase my income because during the dry season it is difficult to find fresh vegetables Perennial vegetables though produce throughout the year Equipped with skills to grow a better future for their families in these difficult times may many more people come to know God s love and provision for their lives MISSION SCHOOL OF HOPE From Rev Charles Sagay Water a timely and lifesaving gift for a time such as this When the wells were built no one had the pandemic in mind No one knew that God was positioning the wells to save lives in such a time as this The children in our community lack soap and water in their schools and homes not even being able to wash their clothes with soap because they cannot afford it They have been extremely blessed by the presence of the water in school and the funds to purchase soap In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak one of the cheapest and easiest important pieces of advice we were given was to wash our hands multiple times a day with soap and clean water Water in school has been serving the community in so many ways In addition it helps community members fight against the spread of the Coronavirus and the MAINE SEACOAST MISSION Covid 19 pandemic bringing hope to many families The commandant du brigade of Mbang commented I don t want to imagine the magnitude of the health disaster we could have faced without the water from Mission School of Hope campuses Thank you so much for water Please pray for Our nation Cameroon for the anglophone crisis to come to an end God s protection against the pandemic By God s grace we have not registered a single positive case in our community although our region is fourth in prevalence in Cameroon From Chris Stelling President John Zavodny was part of Team Vaccine as the Maine Seacoast Mission undertook the challenging task of vaccinating residents on seven of Maine s unbridged islands In partnership with the Maine CDC mainland hospital pharmacies and members of the local communities a successful series of clinics was held over the course of several months The picture was taken by Erin Clark of the Boston Globe who chronicled one of the trips which often included turbulent weather and complex logistics HOSANNA INDUSTRIES INC From Katie DeJournette It s never too hot to help Or so said volunteers from Glenshaw Auto who closed their business for the day so that all of their employees could join Hosanna Industries Inc in siding a house in Clairton Pennsylvania The grateful homeowner has been in the home her entire life taking it over when her parents passed away 19

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The National Association of Congregational Christian Churches welcomed new churches as members Congregational Church of East Sumner Sumner Maine First Church in Pembroke Pembroke Massachusetts West Congregational Church Taunton Massachusetts First Congregational Church of St Johnsbury Center St Johnsbury Center Vermont on the NACCC T he National Association of Congregational Christian Churches NACCC was blindsided in March 2020 when COVID 19 completely disrupted all plans for the 66th Annual Meeting Conference scheduled for Portland Maine The staff was prepared however when COVID 19 showed no signs of abating in time for the 67th AMC The result of their efforts was a two day Zoom event that offered a lively provocative and informative conference as well as a smoothly run business meeting Here are some of the highlights CONSIDERING THE PAST WHAT TO TAKE AND WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND The Reverend Dr Mary A Biedron Senior Minister of North Congregational Church in Farmington Hills Michigan had been on the agenda for the cancelled 2020 conference and graciously agreed to give the Bible Lecture this past June Dr Biedron s original speech focused on the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower s landing at Plymouth and she incorporated highlights of that history into this spring s presentation COVID 19 she said made us feel like Separatists leaving so much and so many people behind Like the Mayflower we were blown off course by an unpredictable wind The challenge according to Dr Biedron is to decide who we will be from this point forward how are we to express and share our faith The answers require that Congregationalists think about historical people and events in 20 new ways determining what to keep and what to change Dr Biedron described a Congregational church as a collective expression gathered by the Holy Spirit and bound together by covenant and the worship of God Congregational churches are autonomous in polity with each member having equal standing and rank the priesthood of all believers Congregational practice is not all about polity but polity may also impact our spiritual formation prayer corporate worship reading exposition of worship and theological reflection Dr Biedron warned that congregations face the risk of allowing an extreme focus on polity to get in the way of spiritual practices when governance doesn t benefit from the context of prayer and mutual support The heart of polity is the church meeting during which members gather in the presence of God to consider issues of worship which is a key distinction of a Congregational church According to the Cambridge Platform all decisions were to be made in a meeting of the whole however Congregational polity has adapted to meet a more diverse populace Church councils have further delegated decision making to boards for example property management lies with the Board of Trustees In the twentieth century polity took precedence over policy and was influenced from outside Congregationalism Church polity evolved to emulate the best practices of the business community For example today s churches tend to assign the work of the Trustees to businesspeople It s important to have members on the board to remind it of the church s spiritual ministry as well as finances The point of having money is to use it for ministry said Biedron The focus on polity may have something to do with the fact that by the end of the twentieth century Congregational churches were dwindling in size and wondering what to do next In the current century Dr Biedron sees a renewed interest in conversation friendship and fellowship There is more advocacy for theological discernment and interpretation to determine what it means to be a people of faith today She encouraged Congregational churches to see themselves as a people of God as a servant people with the church as the body of Christ and as a community of the Spirit Today s church must break down divisions welcome the stranger and truly share power This requires that clergy the elected leadership and the congregation find time and space for collective conversation and consideration of theological practices followed by action and further opportunities for discernment in other words being a living expression of the priesthood of believers Dr Biedron asked how Congregationalism can influence the living of one s faith among the generations To answer that question she said we need to consider what is going on now and what went before by tracing the path of Congregationalism to see where God has already acted and to assess how God s people have responded Pilgrims withstood trials and tempests to arrive at a New World but Dr Biedron said that the spiritual connection gets lost in the retelling With God as the guide Congregationalists must decide what to preserve as historical what to leave behind and what to adapt understanding that sometimes our church practices are more traditional than spiritual SHARE IN GOD S MISSION IN THE WORLD During his series of three one hour Bible Lectures David Clark Ph D shared his passion for theology and scripture by helping churches see how embracing mission offers hope in this discouraging environment Recently retired from his position as Vice President and Dean of Bethel Seminary Dr Clark is a Professor of Theology at Bethel and has authored eight books and dozens of articles while a member of the faculty He has served on several boards including the national board of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and is a consultant and popular speaker Dr Clark offered an overview of the current religious landscape noting that over the years the percentage of Americans falling into the nones category has been steadily rising Nones is a research category that includes atheists agnostics and people who don t identify with any religion Fifty years ago only five percent of Americans were nones By 2016 that number had jumped to 25 and is growing by one percent each year Not surprisingly younger Americans are especially represented among the nones while the Builder Generation and to a lesser extent Baby Boomers are much more likely to report a religious affiliation According to Dr Clark there are 405 000 churches in the U S and half average fewer than 50 attendees The top one percent only a few hundred claim 1000 or more members These churches said Dr Clark are missional Faith invites us to respond to God s gift of grace by living out that grace in service to others which drives thriving churches which are learning that God expects us to be involved in His mission across the street not just on the other side of the world Members of a missional church introduce others in their community to that grace by sharing the message that the kingdom of God is for all people that God loves us because He is love not because we are lovely Some Christians have lost their way Dr Clark maintained by performing acts of service without sharing the message of God or being driven by compassion When churches perform genuine acts of mercy and demonstrate concern for justice righteousness and the poor their mission becomes evidence of God in the world He identified several characteristics of missional churches The Bible is central to their mission It is the primary source which doesn t necessarily mean they deny science or take a literalistic approach helping them find the way to follow the scripture that speaks to our minds and hearts The Bible is the key to understanding our common life They lift up Jesus as the Savior in a way that is compelling They focus on justice in society They understand that the issues of class race and poverty must be addressed in our times as they are in the Bible Missional churches must frame these social issues with the gospel the Kingdom of God and Jesus through a Biblical orientation of these subjects He warns churches not to take their cue from secular sources or political parties but to listen to the Spirit Otherwise service has no deep organic connection to the gospel because it ignores grace and hope through Jesus Christ What we bring to our communities is the good news of the gospel cannot fix what s wrong with my life but God through Christ can said Dr Clark who added We need to take seriously the uniqueness of Christian theology and how it addresses social ills He encouraged churches to take seriously the uniqueness of Christian theology and how it addresses social ills to speak out and work against the plagues beyond the walls of their churches Though studies show that people are turning away from church and religion they also indicate that a majority of Americans are still open to spiritual conversation As Dr Clark put it a message of the grace of Jesus Christ and love of God still resonates with the nones if it includes relevance to the issues with which they wrestle such as justice and racial equality A brighter future will require intentionality facing the future with depth and honesty and adjusting to the new realities of the world around us Churches must find a way to take a more complex approach to ministry and turn outward as well as inward sharing historical biblical theology with new methods of communications and acts of service to those in need ENJOY THE AMC FROM HOME Find videos of the keynote presentations and workshops as well as documents from the 2021 Annual Meeting and Conference online at https www naccc org 2021 annual meeting conference 21

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CITIZENS WITH THE SAINTS Discovering Your Sainthood Fall Virtual One Day Silent Retreat From the NACCC Staff Searching for a shepherd to lead our sheep First Congregational Church of Fremont Michigan A historically Congregational church we are biblically founded and rich in tradition So then you are no longer strangers and aliens but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone Ephesians 2 19 20 C larify our citizenship among the saints and what that means by setting aside a day of prayer and silence sponsored by the Congregational Retreat Society The terminology of sainthood is of course part of the vocabulary used in our early Congregational literature It is fitting that this year on All Saints Day Monday November 1 2021 from 8 00 am to 5 00 pm Eastern Time there will be a virtual Silent Retreat held in a modified Quiet Day format exploring how to recognize your own sainthood in the ordinariness of your life The Reverend Wendy G Van Tassell recently retired after 23 years of co pastoring the First Congregational Church of Spencer Iowa with her husband Tom will lead us through a series of four sessions Wendy s presentations will lead to individual time for meditation prayer journaling Searching for a shepherd to lead our sheep First Congregational Church of Fremont Michigan A historically Congregational church we are biblically founded and rich in tradition We desire to carry on the reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ and provide a place where all may feel welcome loved and encouraged A half hour drive from beautiful Lake Michigan s eastern shores For more information Contact us at congosearch1 gmail com 22 and reflection Worship sessions will bookend the day Wenday advises all participants Nurture yourself Self care essential to a balanced life requires each of us to get away from time to time just as our Lord did Sabbath time can be holy time but in our hurried lives we often must be deliberate in our planning of it The Retreat Society suggests in preparation for your participation in this Silent Retreat that you find and reserve now a physical place in which to retreat Explore the option of going to a near by retreat center or camp taking time out for yourself Be bold ask a friend who has a lovely home and garden if you can retreat for the day in their place They will be flattered and honored to host you Bring your own food so they don t have to fuss Arrange with your church to dwell in the sanctuary or another cozy spot that will provide a space for your solitude and reflection Of course another option is to remain in your own home nestled in a place you find comfortable and convenient The choice is yours All sessions will be provided online via Zoom so be sure your chosen location provides internet access To register for this event please email drcapacker gmail com by Wednesday October 20 2021 There is no charge but the Congregational Retreat Society will accept donations sent by check made out to the Congregational Retreat Society c o Rev Dr Charles Packer ChaplainDirector 1343 Sherwood Forest Court Waterford Michigan 48327 We desire to carry on the reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ and provide a place where all may feel welcome loved and encouraged You ll find our light on the hill a half hour drive from beautiful Lake Michigan s eastern shores For more information Contact us at congosearch1 gmail com Robert Kniefel August 15 1948 June 8 2021 Robert Kniefel Bob was an active member of the first Congregational Church of Anchorage Alaska and a willing worker at NACCC meetings driving the truck of displays equipment and materials from Oak Creek Wisconsin to meeting sites around the country Bob would lend a hand in many other ways His professional work was in traffic systems consulting and running an engineering company in Anchorage Bob is survived by his wife of 51 years Claudia daughter Darcy Kniefel oif Anchorage son Scott Kniefel Kathryn of Salem Oregon eight grandchildren and his sister Lois Kniefel of Anchorage We appreciate all Bob has done for the office over the years and will dearly miss him Pilgrim Congregational Church of Green Bay seeks a full time pastor First gathered in 1964 we are a small but mightily committed congregation seeking to expand Our ideal pastor has a strong Biblical background with demonstrated ability to inspire lead and encourage growth in addition to being comfortable with technology We have traditional and contemporary services stellar musicians including a church choir For More Detailed Information see our CIF at https www naccc org resources pastoral search or contact Louanne Crowder Search Committee Chair at lmcrowder icloud com 920 435 0055 The PCC Mission To give glory to God bring people to Christ nurture their faith equip them to minister and challenge them to serve pilgrimgreenbay com Member of the NACCC 23

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E ach Sunday as I went to the pulpit at the North Deering Meeting House I admired the big baptismal font that was sitting right behind me This font represented another time and place The markings on the bowl and pillar looked to be the mid 1800 s As I ve traveled around and visited Congregational churches in Maine I ve seen many fonts like it The smooth marble deep engraving and hammered metal top got me reflecting on what life might have been like in North Deering nearly 150 years ago I began the pastorate in North Deering in the early spring of 2018 The church had been in crisis from a troubling previous pastorate There had been no closure and no healthy good byes Many thought the church would close and some desired it to close But somehow by the grace of God we stayed open I realized that I needed the Holy Spirit to help me guide the church into a new future with new hope Closing was not an option at least for me Each Sunday for the first couple of years Rhonda and I kept a low profile We didn t make any waves but shared good pastoral love and Down East Maine hospitality along with Rhonda sharing a jingle on her Pentecostal tambourine The church seemed to settle down after a long hard brittle winter It was a few months ago during the middle of the pandemic when I noticed something strange about the baptismal font We were doing Facebook live during worship Not many folks were 24 by Dr Michael Wayne Glidden in the sanctuary We were surrounded by fear And then I could see it materialize right before my eyes The top of the bowl had started to separate from the bottom column I thought to myself not even this baptismal font can survive a pandemic This font had been the highlight of the church for a very long time It hadn t always been behind the pulpit Many years earlier it was at the front of the church and placed there after deep contemplation from a pastor who had a healthy 25 year ministry The font was near the entryway signifying that one comes from darkness into light seeking membership in the church Or as I tried to simplify it one goes from a place of fear to joy and hope We needed this baptismal font to survive Since the glory days of the 80s the church continued to dwindle down This wasn t something unique here churches across the U S have had dwindling attendances for the past 50 years All of us are in the same boat or font at least What was I going to do with the font My greatest fear was that the font would fall off the pillar and land on my foot during a baptism I could see myself explaining to the church on the following Sunday that I needed to preach from a chair because my foot was now a pancake It certainly could be dangerous if I had a family up there I decided that it had to go I had a fantasy that the floor would open up and the font would magically drop down into a hole to be forgotten Ah These biblical images are always within me This is not a time to have a business meeting to contemplate Another pastor suggested that I could crush the font into powder but that would require more muscles than I have Where could you spread font ashes The bowl could be used as a birdbath out front in Mary s garden The imagery of the birds resting in the cedar tree reaching heaven in the Book of Daniel came to my mind What about the broken column I d seen many of the broken columns in South Portland as Rhonda and I would walk through many cemeteries The broken column represents life that has ended too soon a rather bittersweet ending Where could I put a broken column in the church Would we stay bittersweet forever Despite the church having a broken history we re now on the mend a full healthy solid baptismal font is what we need hopefully not 400 lbs including the column I called around to get help in moving the bowl and pillar to the back closet but I didn t get the help I needed A friend of mine who was a former power lifter could barely lift the bowl He disappeared in ten minutes This was quite ironic from a man that was on the center stage of Gold s Gym I impressed my wife by deadlifting the bowl up to my waist and held it there for a minute all the while smiling at her and looking for some good pastoral approval She was fearful of scraping me off the carpet I told her it was about 400 lbs because I remember that weight from deadlifting at the gym in Calais Maine in 1991 Oh to be 23 again Those were great times free from conflict and pain I decided to roll the bowl down the aisle of the church I began to sing roll out the font but was reminded by Rhonda that the best tune was roll out the barrel Shortly I ll tell you about the new barrel we received I needed to hold on tight or a giant 400 lb bowl would roll and crash through the sanctuary window and into the street It definitely would have made a great scene for a movie even here in Maine It was difficult tiring and awkward It made a thud thudthud as I passed each pew Rolling bowls shouldn t make a thud sound but rather a whoosh I thought of the families that would have been baptized lives touched and the faces in the pews that would have been touched by this bowl The pandemic had kept the pews empty but the bowl rolling I mean thumping along with a cadence reminded me that God is not done with what He has created or has been working with I began to think about my strained relationship with my mother who is dying of lung cancer and my father with terminal kidney disease I wanted to roll the font backward and go back in time The rolling bowl felt like a projector screen showing me many stories of yesteryear I looked back on a pandemic year with riots fires protests and a virus that tried to pull us all apart from each other Yes even churches began to close right here in Maine And then there was another piece That column was real to me It was a heavy pillar in my heart I couldn t carry the pillar upright but sideways reminding me of Joseph of Arimathea carrying Christ to his tomb Somehow with the strength of Samson I managed to get the bowl and pillar into the closet I worried that I would be stuck in the closet with these items and unable to get out It was like tucking broken pieces of the past church past my family past our countries past all away I really don t want to open that closet door anytime soon But I was quickly reminded that things that are broken sometimes could do wonderful things because pieces can go in different directions and have new purposes God showed me something powerful a few days later as I was called to officiate a funeral in my old pastorate in Standish Maine I performed the funeral for Madelyn who was a 94 year old saint at Sebago Lake She was my avid supporter and a behind the scenes type of Christian The memorial service was held at the Sebago Lake church and ironically it was the last official meeting of the parish Yes Covid claimed the life of the Standish church It was broken and crushed but not defeated After the service everything would be donated organ hymnals communion table candelabras and a baptismal font I quickly put a claim in on the font Rhonda reminded me that I baptized an infant in that font several years earlier The font would be coming to North Deering to be placed in the entryway of the church just like the old pastor had it 25 years earlier during a healthier time in the life of the church I picked up the new font and it was as light as a feather not 400lbs but roughly 50 This font was unlike any that I ve ever seen I could picture it being in an old rustic chapel out in the woods near my home Or I thought if I removed the top it could be used to hold the pickles that I remember in the local stores in the early 1970 s I remember fond times of having holy conversations around the pickle barrel The font looked to be made from cedar or pine The pieces probably came from boards cut on a table saw in a woodshed somewhere in Standish I told Rhonda it looked like Charles Ingalls had crafted this piece in his barn in Walnut Grove It doesn t look round but like a barrel a barrel that might have held moonshine from the 1870 s rather than holy water in 2021 The Reverend Dr Michael Glidden is Minister at North Deering Congregational Meeting House in Portland Maine He has been pastoring since 1993 Rev Glidden earned his Master of Divinity Degree in 1995 from Bangor Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in 2002 He was ordained in 2000 Mike lives in South Portland with his wife Rhonda The top piece was masterfully crafted with a cross mounted at the top It looks a little crude but I was reminded that there was nothing glorious about the crucifixion A simple bowl was placed under the top not marble not gold or silver just plain old pewter reminding me that we all enter the house of God in our naked vulnerability I carried it sideways to our car and loaded it in As we left the church we noticed one of the old trustees bringing in shelving The old church at Standish was now going to be the new food pantry for the hungry throughout the Sebago Lake area It was sad to see a church end but there was a new beginning What was crushed depressed and defeated had become like pieces of bread to share with the hungry We made the one hour journey back to North Deering I put our new baptismal font near the front door not far from the closet containing the old and broken one I looked at my wife and asked her I wonder what great and marvelous things that God will be doing in our lives and in this church in the next year 25

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Is God calling you to make a change THE GOSPEL is a Contact Sport The author the Reverend Dr Barry W Szymanski practiced law for over 46 years retiring as an attorney in 2019 He graduated from seminary in 2006 and was ordained a Congregational Minister that same year He is now serving at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Oconomowoc Wisconsin having served twelve years at the First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa NA and prior to that at Fox River Congregational Church NA He has served on many boards and committees at the NACCC Email barrywszymanski sbcglobal net By Rev Barry W Szymanski J D W hy are you just standing there This is the question that the two men in robes asked the disciples after Jesus Ascension I like their question Those guys didn t ask the disciples to establish a theology school or seminary They didn t ask them to set up a marker memorial or monument The two didn t sit down at a desk to create and execute credentials What they asked of the followers was very simple How come you re still standing around The disciples got the message They returned to Jerusalem They continued in prayer When the Holy Spirit came upon and within them at Pentecost they exploded They went out among the people and began to mingle and preach Out they went to synagogues and then they and those after them went out to the known ends of the earth Because of them the message of Jesus burst forth upon the world and into the hearts of those of us who live in this world 26 The question put to us Congregationalists from those two men is the same and just as easy to understand Why are you just standing around There is a lot to do Now get going In the ongoing process of keeping and even bringing Christ to the world how do we understand what those men ask of us who follow Jesus Let s start by mingling Circulate Talk Mix in with all kinds of people around you Preach by living use words if you have to How you live is most important Be active in what ways can you share your faith and your covenant Look at all the outreach activities of your church Each activity is a conversation starter when you meet with others A sample conversation starter might be food pantries quilting missions trips Habitat for Humanity are so important to our community so I volunteer The response might be Oh I agree how did you become a volunteer Starting a second conversation might be I found that what our pastor said during the sermon was interesting curious unusual what do you think How they respond is then up to you and your conversation partner Sharing what you do is an easy way to socialize and converse about what your church does which may lead to questions about your church s worship and fellowship If the other person is not interested so be it They may not be interested in entering into a conversation about baseball statistics garden gnomes or the features of your new smart phone either But isn t it better to make an effort than for you to be asked by those two men in white robes Why are you just standing there why aren t you at least saying something The Gospel is a contact sport You have to be involved No certificates No monuments No ivory tower schools The Gospel calls you to be on the playing field And then just have fun and play The Holy Spirit will be with you THE CHURCH ON THE HILL DIXFIELD MAINE If life in a small rural town in beautiful western Maine is appealing then you may be the spiritual leader we seek Our pastor of over 20 years has retired and we are searching for the right person to help us move forward and grow our church Established in the community in 1806 the Dixfield Congregational Church has a strong foundation made up of hard working members Our body of believers is diverse in outlook but united by our faith in the gospel of Christ We seek a full time pastor to lead our close knit and welcoming church family LEARN ABOUT US Our Church Information Form is available at naccc org FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Call Steve at 207 558 5755 or email elmer45 aol com Or mail us at PO Box 615 Dixfield ME 04224 Atten Search Committee 27

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The Reverend Rob Fredrickson serves as Associate Minister at Ozaukee Congregational Church in Grafton Wisconsin A graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston Illinois he has been on staff at NACCC churches in Madison Evanston Wauwatosa Fox Point and now Grafton He served on the NA s Youth Commission and has held various leadership roles with the Wisconsin Congregational Association Three Historical Phrases Still Relevant Today by Rev Rob Fredrickson There is no longer Jew or Greek there is no longer slave or free there is no longer male and female for all of you are one in Christ Jesus A Galatians 3 28 NRSV dmittedly equality is a core principle that informs my views on all things political social and economic But I find equality to also be a theological touchstone and a spiritual tuning fork Thus for me denying the existence of systemic racism would be self deception Ignoring it would be self betrayal For God s church silence would be both tacit approval and ecclesiastical malpractice That last sentence I realize may for some be a debatable point perhaps even controversial I recognize that when a church or its representatives lay or ordained speak out on a social or political issue some may bristle with discomfort That said I think scripture in general and especially the voice of Jesus in the canonical gospels has much to say about what we today would call issues of social justice and human rights And the history of Christianity clearly records the contributions of church folk to the specific cause of racial justice from John Newton a slave ship captain turned Anglican clergyman Amazing Grace lyricist and abolitionist to Martin Luther King Jr and onward to the present day For my part I feel compelled morally ethically theologically and perhaps most of all spiritually to personally engage on this issue and to give voice to what s on my heart and mind Certainly not everyone will agree with my point of view And yes that s what this piece is my point of view It s nothing more and nothing less I offer it for whatever it s worth to you I joined the Racial Justice Task Team with enthusiasm but also with a clear up front disclaimer I m a white guy who s a product of overwhelmingly white suburbs serving a local church that s even more overwhelmingly white And so while my heart is definitely with the cause my own personal experience is quite limited I took it upon myself to do some remedial homework to help get me thinking outside my white comfort zone Let me merely share a few thoughts 28 on three historical phrases that strike me as remarkably relevant amid today s struggle for racial justice 1 The invisible hand If you took an economics class in high school or college or if you just had a good world history teacher you ll recall this phrase associated with 18th century British economist Adam Smith The idea If every individual simply pursues his or her own economic self interest the most righteous possible social outcomes will naturally emerge It came to be a favorite phrase in the world of laissez faire economics championing the minimization of taxation regulation and other governmental interventions in finance and trade But to the best of my understanding the invisible hand has been no champion of racial justice Rather when and where the single minded pursuit of economic self interest has been allowed to advance unchecked it has resulted in appalling disparities in housing education employment income wealth and health while turning a blind eye to outright exploitation Let s be clear Nobody in the mainstream of American discourse is advocating for equality of outcome In our economic system people prosper to varying degrees I certainly take no issue with that But many are expressing concerns about equality of opportunity or the lack thereof Many are describing what they see as an uneven playing field Many are questioning whether the economic disparities have become so extreme as to be immoral And many are pointing to the various contexts in which they see structural bias On each of these fronts I count my voice among the many 2 Means of production Back in school many of us learned that the distinction between communism and capitalism comes down to the question of who owns the means of production a nation s land resources factories etc Simplistically speaking in a communist system the government owns these assets In a capitalist system the means of production are in the hands of the private sector i e corporations and to a lesser extent entrepreneurs And we were probably taught that whoever owns the means of production has a degree of control with regard to the aspirational self determination of individuals As Americans most of us learned that it s unquestionably preferable to consign such control to an array of business interests rather than to a central government In the 19th century the booming cotton industry largely drove America s economic strength According to episode 2 of the 1619 podcast The Economy that Slavery Built at one point the market value of the nation s several million enslaved people remember they were commonly and legally regarded as property exceeded the aggregate value of all the factories and all the railroads combined In effect slaves had become our country s most economically significant means of production In the eyes of their owners they existed for just one purpose to maximize their owners financial gain They were no different in that regard than brick andmortar factories wage and price levels etc drive our attitudes about education immigration Affirmative Action taxes transportation the minimum wage policing and other issues far more than any truly deep seeded animus The Old Testament wisdom book known as Ecclesiastes repeatedly asserts There is nothing new under the sun Perhaps that can be said of today s racial tensions I ll be the first to stipulate that the problems are immense structural complex and vexing and solutions are elusive But perhaps these three historical phrases taken together offer a window into at least some of today s key issues So much of what we face arises from the invisible hand of competing economic interests how we value labor in the calculus of economic productivity and how we self manage our mundane banal instincts of fear and greed 3 The banality of evil Political philosopher Hannah Arendt s book Eichmann in Jerusalem A Report on the Banality of Evil was published in 1963 But I first learned of it a quarter century later in an undergrad political theory class at the University of Wisconsin Madison In observing the trial of former Nazi official Adolph Eichmann Arendt was struck by how much of his conduct was motivated not by heartfelt hatred or anti Semitism or bloodlust but rather by far more mundane considerations like obeying his orders and doing his duty If you remember Roots think about characters like Captain Davies Ed Asner Squire Reynolds Lorne Green Dr Reynolds Robert Reed and Tom Moore Chuck Connors At the core what drove them Was it really hatred based on skin color Or was it a far more banal duo of motivations greed and fear To be clear I certainly believe that there was and there is heartfelt racial hatred I don t claim to understand it but its existence is undeniable Still I can t help but wonder how much racially skewed decision making is motivated primarily by greed or perhaps by fear more so than by hatred per se I wonder if relatively banal considerations property values job opportunities college admissions Celebrating 122 Years of Service to the Lord Malta Montana Little White Church Our Pastor is retiring after 27 years We are seeking a full time pastor with strong faith who can nurture support and share God s Word and His love to our congregation Malta is a small rural community with just over 1900 residents in northcentral Montana famous for wide open spaces and diversity in landscape with a variety of wildlife and cultural history For more information go to naccc org click on the Open Pulpits tab or contact rnaj me com 29

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Pastorates PULPITS In Search Senior Minister Recent Calls Clare Gromoll Senior Minister People s Congregational Church Bayport MN April 1 2021 Gail A Januskiewicz Senior Minister Carmel Union Congregational Church Camel ME May 2 2021 Rev Bradley Bunn Associate Minister First Congregational Church Mansfield OH July 1 2021 Installations None Ordination Edward Gabrielsen Rockland Congregational Church Rockland ME April 18 2021 Cambria Congregational Church Lockport NY Congregational Church of East Sumner Sumner ME Dixfield Congregational Church Dixfield ME First Church in Pembroke Pembroke MA First Congregational Church Interlachen FL First Congregational Church Spencer IA First Congregational Church Beardstown IL First Congregational Church Toulon IL First Congregational Church Searsport ME First Congregational Church Wayne MI First Congregational Church McCook NE First Congregational Church of East Bloomfield Bloomfield NY First Congregational Church Little Valley NY First Congregational Church Salt Lake City UT First Congregational Church Wauwatosa WI Little White Church Malta MT Maple Hill Community Congregational Church Maple Hill KS Mount Hope Congregational Church Livonia MI Oakwood Heights Community Church Staten Island NY Orthodox Congregational Church Petersham MA Stafford Springs Congregational Church Stafford Springs CT Tinley Park Community Church Tinley Park IL Tipton Community Congregational Church Tipton MI Associate Minister Plymouth Church Brooklyn NY u Intentional Transitional Minister First Congregational Church Greenville MI First Congregational Church Wauwatosa WI Non NACCC Church Senior Minister Baxter Congregational United Church of Christ Baxter IA First Congregational Church Fremont MI First Congregational Church of Morristown Morristown NY Mayflower Congregational Church Grand Rapids MI Non NACCC Church Interim Minister CALENDAR 2021 Subscriptions Policy SAVE THE DATE Fall Virtual One Day Silent Retreat November 1 2021 8 00 am to 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tax deductible except for the first 15 of donation per subscription received by the taxpayer per year The Congregationalist ISSN 0010 5856 Postage paid at Madison WI 537149998 Published quarterly by the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches 8473 S Howell Ave Oak Creek WI 53154 0288 Periodicals postage paid at Madison WI and additional mailings offices POSTMASTER Send address changes to The Congregationalist 8473 S Howell Ave Oak Creek WI 53201 0288 The Congregationalist Online Our Web site congregationalist org features PDF files of the current issue plus back issues and a searchable index of all articles Each new issue is posted on the Web when the printed version is mailed so you can read it online days or even weeks before the printed copy reaches your mailbox Enjoy SUBSCRIBING CANCELING MOVING Email us at naccc naccc org Editor Marianne E King Publisher Carrie Dahm Contributing Editor Julie Robie Graphic Design Goes Studio Published quarterly by NACCC 8473 S 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