UCC Representative's Report - Christ Church 2003 Annual Report
From Jeannette Brown
This has been a very busy year.† I will begin this report with a tutorial about the UCC because some people have asked me about the UCC.
The structure of the UCC is based on the individual Congregations.† Each church congregation is a separate unit with itís own governing body and by laws.† Christ Church as a UCC congregation is a part of the New Jersey Association of UCC churches.† There are 52 churches in the New Jersey Association.† The Association is staffed by an Associate Conference Minister the Reverend Sherry Taylor and her office Assistant Beth Pugh.† The office is in First Congregational Church in Montclair.† The Central Atlantic Conference of which the New Jersey Association is a part hires Rev Sherry Taylor.† Sherry Taylorís job is to help the churches in the Association with staffing of clergy and she also helps churches that have problems. She also wants the New Jersey Association churches to work together on projects or just have fun.† This is the reason that we recently divided all the churches into Clusters. (More about that later).
The New Jersey Association is governed by a Council that is elected by the membership.† I currently serve on the council as an at large lay member. The Central Atlantic Conference of which the NJ Association is a member consists of five Associations, New Jersey, Catoctin, Chesapeake, Shenandoah, and Potomac. There is an Associate Conference Minister assigned to each of these associations.† The Conference minister the Rev John Deckenback heads the Central Atlantic Conference.† His office is in Catonsville MD (a suburb of Baltimore) and is staffed by two people, an Executive Administrative Assistant, Arnetta Jones and a Bookkeeper.
The Conference Minister is in charge of everything that happens in the conference and takes the place of an associate conference minister when they are on vacation.
The Central Atlantic Conference is a division of the United Church of Christ.† In the UCC there are about 39 Conferences nationwide including Puerto Rico.
The central organization is the United Church of Christ with main headquarters in Cleveland Ohio.† There is a joke about the head of the UCC who is God.† But the officers of the UCC are: Rev John Thomas General Minister and President of the UCC, Edith A. Guffey Associate General Minister, Rev. Josť A. "Joe" Malayang, Executive Minister of Local Church Ministries, Ms. Bernice Powell Jackson Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries, Dr. Dale L. Bishop, Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministries.† The UCC recently reorganized into four major ministries. Local Church Ministries, Justice and Witness Ministries, General Ministries and Wider Church Ministries.† For more information about the UCC please look at the website www.ucc.org.
This year started when I attended the Central Atlantic Conference meeting held at University of Delaware in Newark DE.† The Anti- Racism Task Force of the CAC of which I am a member ran two workshops at that meeting and had a booth.† I attended the annual meeting of the CAC held at that meeting and participated in the worship service as a lay reader.
In the fall I attended the fall meeting of the New Jersey Association, which was held at Cedar Grove.† The topic was Stewardship. Keith Jones is a member of this commission.
In October I attended the Board of World Fellowship meeting to explain UCC funding.† The UCC is funded by two methods.† Each church is accessed a certain amount of money per member as dues.† This money goes to support the New Jersey Association.† There is also another contribution that is call OCWM or Our Churches Wider Mission.† This money goes to support the work of the Conference and national.† Our church had been sending one check for both but that is the break down of the where the money goes.
The winter meeting of the New Jersey Association was held on January 25 at First Congregation Church in Westfield the speaker was the Rev. Gordon Dragt, he spoke on new church development.† The report is posted on the Christ Church web page.† At lunch we held the first cluster meetings of the Churches.
.Clusters; In order to improve communication between churches in the New Jersey Association the Association has been divided into Clusters.† Christ Church is a member of Cluster 4 which includes; Stanley Congregation Church, Chatham; Federated Church, Livingston; Community Congregational Church, Short Hills; Plainfield Congregational Church, Plainfield; Faith United Church of Christ Union; Garwood St Paulís UCC Garwood; First Congregational Church, Westfield, Trinity UCC, Warren.† I jointly coordinate the cluster along with the representative from Stanley Congregational Church.† We will try to work on some joint programming in the fall perhaps for the youth groups.† Other clusters are already doing programming like picnics etc.
The Spring Annual Meeting was held in May at the Stanley Congregational Church.† Four members of Christ Church attended this meeting, Paul Tukey, Keith Jones, Pastor Tom and myself.† Paul Tukey has joined the ad hoc Communication Assessment and Strategy Committee for the New Jersey Association which held an ideas session with reps from the NJ UCC churches.† Pastor Tom talked about his experiences in Iraq.† I made a presentation about the Anti-Racism Task Force meeting that was held at Christ Church.†
In addition to the three meetings of the New Jersey Association I attended several pre-ordination meetings.† Any member of a UCC church can attend these meetings and vote on whether the candidate should be ordained.† In fact there must be a quorum of members and churches in attendance order for the meeting to be official.† At one of those meetings we just made it when I walked in the door.†
Since I am also an elected member of the New Jersey Association Council I also attend a Council meeting once a month.† The Council recently had an ecclesiastical meeting to review the removal of the standing of one of clergy.† This is very unusual because usually the person does not appeal the decision.† It was a tough meeting for me personally and for all the members of the Council who attended.
I am also a member of the Outreach Commission of the New Jersey Association.† This is similar to our Board of World Fellowship.† We review proposals that are submitted to us by churches for programs for health and human services.† We like these proposals to be joint proposals by one or more churches as we are able to leverage our funds for churches that could not afford to run the project alone.†
I am also a charter member of the CAC Anti Racism Task Force.† As such I attended three meetings of the Task Force held in Charlottesville VA, Baltimore MD and Christ Church Summit.† The Task Force will be holding a Training Session in the fall probably at Union Congregational Church in Montclair.
My next two meetings will be the CAC Annual meeting in Newark DE on June 13-15 and the UCC Synod July 8-16 Minneapolis MN.† I will post reports of those two meeting on the Christ Church web.
The New Jersey Association fall meeting will be held on October 5 at Christ Church.† I will need the help of a lot of people to pull this off.† I hope I can count on your support.