NYUCC Happenings

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST My Thoughts The Freedom of the Unknown Let’s talk about freedom. (Yes, this being two days from Independence Day is part of why we’re going to have this conversation, but not the only reason.) I won’t get into a diatribe about freedom and the contradictory definitions of “freedom” in this society. That is for a longer conversation complete with mutual dialog and curious listening. For now, what I will say is that freedom, at its very core for me, is a state of mind. Freedom, in one’s mind, allows for the ability to analyze, contemplate, compartmentalize, reason, and make decisions from one moment to the next despite what may be going on outwardly. Seemingly contrary to the freedom available in our minds is the way that it appears to be a stacked deck when what one wishes, hopes, and plans for in life does not operate the same way in reality. Being an “ENFP” on the Myers-Briggs, I often become preoccupied with analyzing “Why?”. Why isn’t this coming together like I wanted it to? Why am I being stymied and can’t do things as easily as they appear in my head? Why can I not just bend the dang spoon with my brain and then realize that there was never a spoon at all?! (Pardon my “Matrix” analogy.) So, what is the best answer with which I came up for these questions? A misguided interpretation of freedom. Without question, I need to have control over some very core things in my life. And not like full out “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” control. Just, at a bare minimum, the ability to control all of my thoughts and the work of my hands. Alternatively, just maybe, the foundation of true freedom is the freedom to shift perspective and choose to see things differently than they appear. I struggle with the truth that I am in control of very little outside of myself. That is mainly because my concept of freedom is synonymous with control. Not so. Those are two very different things. It feels good to have a sense of agency and to know that my life could completely change for better or worse based on decisions that I make. However, it is simultaneously terrifying to also know that someone else could make a decision and obliterate my feelings of freedom in an instant. Even if God has assured me through the Scriptures, past events, and the testimony of others that it will all work out – I am not keen on the innumerable times I am called to be Indiana Jones and just step out on faith to reach the Holy Grail. That makes me feel the total opposite of being free – let alone having any control! I am then left with this question: Do I keep trusting blindly in the hammock-type nature of the Universe, or, to take the road more traveled and (presumably) give myself better odds of safety? That is a hard puzzle for me because I would expect freedom of choice to be so much more…freeing. But, it ain’t. We do live in a world full of unknowns. A world where everything we do can impact (for better or for worse) a person anywhere between one and six degrees of separation from us. Sure, I love mystery and magic. But I detest suspense. And I suppose that’s the rub. I do not mind life having surprises and some deep unanswered questions; but constantly walking over the chasm and trying to guess what is just around the corner is exhausting. Do you ever feel like that? Like you have put so much effort into your life, and still, you’re trying to figure out the places where you are really free? Like, at this point, you should be able to breathe easily knowing that some things are assured? Do you ever feel like the years you have put in have entitled you to at least have some day-to-day peace and calming breaths that just aren’t always there? If so, I understand. So, here’s what I propose: Let’s not get it, together. Notice my grammar? Not, “let’s not get it together.” Rather, “let’s not get it, TOGETHER”! There’s something about relationship in the midst of chaos that can calm the soul’s seas. Real relationship where we can be vulnerable enough to admit that we don’t know everything and never will. The type of togetherness that allows us to not define ourselves and others by our titles; but rather, by the depth of our ability to connect with one another on unseen levels that cross space and time. I’m proposing that we don’t jettison the changing road when we feel a loss of control…but rather act on our freedom by deciding to be okay with not knowing. And then doing so, side by side. There is a sense of comfort in that because at least in those times when we’re wandering, we can honestly say we’re not lost because none of us would be alone. Utilizing our freedom to be a part of the “WE” and not solely focused on the “ME”. None of us are islands unto ourselves and despite that it may feel good to say that we are called to be in our current “positions” – no, we all are not. Sometimes we are absolutely where God wants us, and other times, we are waiting for God to rescue us from wherever we are hunkering down in search of refuge. And in both cases, there is freedom. Freedom to partner up, freedom to trust the invisible thread despite the angst of not knowing, and freedom to share all of ourselves with the world so that we stop pretending to have it all together. We have the freedom to dispel the myth of total control. What do you think? Take your time and consider what that would look like for you. How would you show up differently if you exercised your freedom to invest in the process and embrace the unknown? I’ve decided it’s in my best interest to be free to not know everything. Or, maybe, life has been just that effective in showing me that I can either do this the easier way or the harder way. (Spoiler alert: It is still an everyday struggle.) If you ever want to join me on the unknown road, I’ll be one of the folks holding the sign with a huge question mark followed by an exclamation point awaiting your company. Feel free (get it?) to let us journey together anytime. – Rev. Shernell Edney Stilley Rev. Shernell Edney Stilley Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Vitality New York Conference, United Church of Christ   REMEMBRANCE During the Annual Meeting, we took time to pause, reflect, and remember all of those who we hold dear to us that have transitioned in the last year or more. It is important for us all to allow for space to mourn, and to know that we are not alone in our moments of sorrow. If you feel you need a helping hand in grieving/mental health wellness, please email: sestilley@uccny.org   In Memoriam Sueli Gaewsky Sueli Alves (da Costa) Gaewsky Sueli was born on January 22, 1961, in the town of Bom Sucesso in the Brazilian state of Paraná. She was the youngest child ofPedro Alves da Costa and SebastianaSimões Pato da Costa. Full Text   UCC NEWS General Synod 34 Next Synod, will be in person; hybrid aspects being explored. Delegates and visitors will meet June 30 through July 4 at the Indianapolis Convention Center A basic website for the meeting is now in place. People will eventually be able to register for Synod and find agenda and other details there. One key document is already there: the Standing Rules, which guide Synod business and name important deadlines. There’s also a place there to sign up for Synod updates. Click here for General Synod site and details. or visit www.generalsynod.org United Church of Christ National Ministries General Council This year we have received a number of questions about third party use of property—both leasing and one-time or short-term use by individuals and groups. Check out the General Council Blog for articles addressing these concerns and more. – Leasing Church Property to a Tenant: What Churches Need to Know. (Leasing inquiries) – Allowing Third Parties to Use Church Property: What Churches Need to Know. (Facilities use) Additional articles on using photos of others in church media, and how to be political but not partisan. — Heather E. Kimmel (she/her) General Counsel United Church of Christ, National Ministries UCC.org United Church of Christ National Ministries Office of Human Resources The Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer has announced his retirement effective the end of October 2022. The National Ministries has opened the search for the successor with a close date of July 22, 2022. Team Leader and Minister of Gender & Sexuality Justice/Executive Director, United Church of Christ HIV & AIDS Network (aka UCAN) Click here to apply or visit www.appone.com/MainInfoReq.asp?R_ID=4719656   2022 Craigville Theological Colloquy: July 11-15, Cape Cod, Massachusetts   There are a few spaces still available at the beautiful Craigville Retreat Center on Cape Cod for the ecumenical Craigville Theological Colloquy. Theme: “Sacred Spaces, Sacred Times: Into the Future” Includes lodging and meals, access to Craigville Beach, two field trips on Cape Cod, worship, Bible reflections, meditation, and fellowship. To register and for more information, click below: Details Here Celebrate 50 years of Open and Affirming Ministries!   Join us Aug. 5-7 for our first National ONA Gathering since 2019! Our virtual event will celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the ONA Coalition and Bill Johnson’s ordination as the first openly gay man authorized to serve an historic Christian church as a minister of word and sacrament. Leaders include the Rev. Rhina Ramos (worship leader), Bishop Yvette Flunder (closing address and charge), the Rev. Bill Johnson and the Rev. Anne Holmes, and the Rev. Andy Lang (State of the ONA Movement). Details Here Practical Resource Center Everyone Has a Calling – Ours Is Helping You! More Info   FREE SOUND SYSTEM See listing here. Contact David Toot for more info gdtoot@gmail.com The Space Between: The Emerging Church in a Post-Pandemic World Registration is now open for a major United Church of Christ summit “to imagine a church alive and vital in the world.” It will be held Sept. 19-21, online and in-person in St. Louis. Our ACM Rev. Shernell Edney Stilley has been a contributor to this event, and will be on site! Read More… Registration and More Info   NY UCC Conference Connection What’s Happening at Your Local Church? Do you have an item of news that you would like to share throughout the New York Conference? Please email communications@uccny.org and send the details – preferably with links and pictures! Please note that the New York Conference may not publish all submissions received. REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR BOUNDARY AWARENESS TRAINING AND RETIREE BAT www.uccny.info/BAT2022 Click on the link for the calendar, then click on each training for more information and to register. If you have questions regarding scheduling for an online BAT session please contact Lisa Delgado at lisadelgado@uccny.org. COMING LATER THIS SUMMER: CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE MINISTRY TRAINING   ANNUAL MEETING 2022 Held June 10-12, 2022 at Silver Bay on Lake George “Family Reunion: Release, Rest, Rejoice!” WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU! Please take our brief feedback survey to help us prepare quality Annual Meeting events for you! Stay anonymous if you’d like- Open to all (if you attended this year or not!) MOST APPRECIATED! FEEDBACK SURVEY ~REWIND~ Click below to see full listing of videos and connect to business meeting details from the Annual Meeting. You may also visit www.uccny.org/annualmeeting Full announcement for Annual Meeting 2023 in Buffalo, New York to come. If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Ryan Henderson at rhenderson@uccny.org REWIND! If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Ryan Henderson at rhenderson@uccny.org   CAPITAL CAMPAIGN VIDEO Today…Tomorrow…Together Capital Campaign Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams Transitional Conference Minister Preaching on “A Prescription for Praise” A Harp Benediction from Martha Gallagher The Blessing Woman and UCC NY Member www.theblessingwoman.com   Keeping in Touch and Staying Safe Your conference staff is available to you on Wednesdays for Virtual Office Hours from 11am – 12 noon at zoom.us/j/422208515 We are here to listen, to have you bounce ideas off of us, to ask for specific resources, to pray and perhaps even to laugh together. All are invited.   NEW YORK CONFERENCE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST Officers & Board Members Support the New York Conference Amazon Smile Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the New York Conference of United Church of Christ whenever you shop on AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service. Click to sign up: Amazon Smile Donate Directly Contribute to the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ today with an online contribution. Join us in ministry: Donate Directly New York Conference | United Church of Christ P.O. Box 487 Syracuse, New York 13209 315-446-3073 | office@uccny.org | www.uccny.org THANK YOU!   Continue to stay safe during gatherings this summer! Monitor your health daily Wash your hands often Test if you feel unwell or after attending big gatherings Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with hands If you feel unwell, stay home and seek medical care Stay current on vaccination and boosters If you must be around others and not feeling well, wear a mask FREE TESTS AVAILABLE www.covid.gov/tests VACCINES and BOOSTER Finder www.vaccines.gov/search Get Medication for COVID-19 covid-19-test-to-treat-locator-dhhs.hub.arcgis.com Find FREE MASKS (N95 respirators) at a participating location near you. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/free-masks.html Or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489)   UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST 315-446-3073 | www.uccny.org PLEASE NOTE: CLICKING UNSUBSCRIBE BELOW WILL REMOVE YOU FROM ALL NY CONFERENCE COMMUNICATION!   New York Conference UCC | PO Box 487, Syracuse, NY 13209 Unsubscribe ldcvkvzs@uccny.org Update Profile | Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by communications@uccny.org powered by Try email marketing for free today!

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