You Are Welcome Here
Pastor Susan's Notes
One of the unique characteristics of the United Church of Christ (U.C.C.) denomination is how each local congregation gets to decide how to conduct ministry in its own community; we don’t have a central figure, only an administrative body where “covenantal relationship” is extended between the Denominational Offices in Cleveland, the Conferences, and the Associations. We do have expectations from our Illinois Conference, however, and we connect with them throughout the year, especially at the annual meeting. Our Churches Wider Mission (OCWM) is our basic support to the Conference, an amount in our budget to be paid throughout the year. There are over 260 U.C.C. congregations in Illinois (140 in the Chicago Metropolitan and Fox Valley Associations alone) all different kinds and sizes with unique ministries and worship styles.
This year Council President, Lynn Filippelli, Haeman Hong and I attended the Annual Meeting; it was held at Elmhurst College, June 8-9. It was called Love in Action: Life as Neighbors. Each of us attended workshops. We heard:
*how to strengthen the church by loving our neighbors and welcoming the stranger,
*how smaller churches CAN impact people and their community, and
*how telling our faith stories is a way to share faith; they impact the storyteller and the listener.
Resolutions pertaining to immigration, public prisons, and violence in America were also discussed and voted upon. Our Chicago churches are especially interested in making change happen in their communities where violence is an everyday occurrence.
As our own Church Council engages all of us to expand our efforts to engage people in the community, I pray we will encourage others within our own reach to know Jesus Christ, to learn about the U.C.C., and to enjoy the fruits of a faith life with our church. When we feel welcome and safe, it is natural to extend - to others - that same opportunity. May God open our eyes to what the future can be.
Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.