eNews weekly update
June 9, 2022 | Issue 23
Clergy Café
June 15, 2022 @ 9:30 AM

Retired Clergy Zoom Gathering
June 30, 2022 @ 3:00 PM
North Texas Association Fall Meeting
October 22, 2022 @ 10:00am
(First Congregational - Ft. Worth)

2022 Southern Regional Women's Retreat
October 14-16, 2022 (Live Oak, FL)
Conference Minister Connections
Schedule Rev. Hodson to Preach
Phil will bring the message, host a Q&A discussion with your congregation after worship, and meet with your leadership.
Conference Minister 1:1 Chats
Schedule a conversation via Zoom with Rev. Hodson at a time that fits your life. Phil looks forward to chatting with you!
Clergy Café resumes Wednesday, June 15th @ 9:30 AM

News from Around the Conference
When we say, "everyone welcome, seriously everyone," we mean it. This year, Slumber Falls and New Church have come together to craft a junior & senior high experience that is a safe, brave space for all youth to deepen their faith in an open & affirming community!

Summer Camp Registration is now open for all summer camp sessions at Slumber Falls Camp.

Early-Bird Registration discount ends April 1st. Take advantage of the savings and get connected to one of our great experiences now!

Loving Leadership
Pastor Mak Kneebone is at the helm of a queer-affirming congregation in Spring, TX.

Growing up Roman Catholic and being assigned female at birth, one won't find many role models for becoming a clergyperson. The path towards a vocation in a pulpit can be, shall we say, not straight.

But that's where the story of Mak Kneebone, pastor of Plymouth United Church in Spring begins. Growing up in Michigan, first in Detroit and then in more rural areas, he knew he didn't fit in, but didn't have the language to explain it. In college, he used the label "lesbian" to describe himself for a while, and found a community, but he still felt out of step. There were few resources for dealing with what he was feeling. "Saying I'm not actually a woman' didn't get met with great applause," Kneebone admits. Text Link
Having a strong religious impulse and finding so little support for his queerness in the early 1980s, Kneebone switched religious traditions. "I went into the Pentecostal church, where I became ashamed of everything about myself and became an 'ex-gay'", he says. For ten years, he was involved in that tradition, teaching and leading small groups. It was not a sustainable situation. "I couldn't imagine it; I couldn't pretend anymore," he says. "I knew I needed to explore and discover how God actually made me."
He came out again, and found himself shunned by the community he'd served all those years. He left with a new conviction. "I decided I knew two things. I knew I wasn't heteronormative, and I knew that God loved me." He just had to figure out how those things worked together.
Kneebone had a close friend in Chicago who he trusted, so he moved there to begin really addressing his gender identity. He found a therapist there who listened to him and agreed that he was not a woman and also that he had a calling to ministry. “That was really profoundly moving to me that somebody else could reflect back to me something that I knew about myself,” he says. 

We celebrate with the Open Arms community the graduation of the Rev. Dr. Jules Williams from Eden Seminary!
Pictured from left to right is Rev. Dr. Jules Williams, Jr.; Margaret Smith and Pam Mayo, members of Open Arms UCC; Kim Williams; Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister of Justice and Local Ministries of the United Church of Christ.
Meet Rev. Dr. Jules Williams, Jr.

On May 20, 2022, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, conferred the degree of Doctor of Ministry on Rev. Jules Williams, Jr., Pastor of Open Arms United Church of Christ in Conroe, TX (Tamina Community). Rev. Williams, who earned his pre-doctoral degrees at the College of Biblical Studies and Dallas Theological Seminary, has pastored Open Arms, a new church in the area, for two years. In efforts to lead his congregation to follow the way Jesus intended, Jules models one who strives for justice and equality, for inclusion, for service, for love of all. In addition to his church duties, Rev. Williams works for the Texas Department of Corrections in the Windham School District as educator and counselor. Jules cherishes his family: his wife, Kim; daughter, Nia; and sons, Jules III and Mustapha. Incidentally, all three of his children are talented musicians, Nia having just completed her degree in Music at Sam Houston State University; and all contribute their talents to Open Arms worship. The Open Arms congregation congratulates Pastor Williams on his achievement and cherishes his leadership.
Your Invited! Pastor Leslie Jackson's Anniversary Celebration - June 26th
Please join St. Peter United in celebrating the anniversary of Pastor Leslie Jackson on Sunday, June 26th at 4:00pm at the church located at 9022 Long Point Road in Houston.

Central St. Matthew's Celebrates Pride Month
If you drive pass Central St. Matthew UCC in New Orleans in the month of June, you will see that their Pride Flags are displayed front and center at the entrance of the church.

These beautiful flags represent Central St. Matthew's open support and welcoming of the LGBTQ community.
2022 UCC Southern Regional Women's Retreat
October 14-16-2022
Greetings to the UCC Women of the Florida, South Central, Southeast, and Southern Conferences!!
Have you ever attended one of the Southern Regional UCC Women's Retreats? If you have, I expect you will be coming to Camp Weed and Cerveny Conference Center in Live Oak, Florida October 14-16, 2022. You value the inspiration, camaraderie, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones, learning new skills, and listening to God in a natural setting.
If you have never been to our retreats, you are in for a treat! We are meeting in the same beautiful northern Florida setting on a small lake where we met in 2013. It has a lovely chapel looking out on the water, nice two-bed rooms with private baths, an inspiring outdoor patio area with rocking chairs overlooking the lake, a large dining room with great food, and trails through the woods. A perfect spot to retreat from our everyday lives. 

Key Church Leaders Update Request
As part of our ongoing effort to increase communication and share resources across the Conference, we're inviting all congregations to update their key church leaders' information annually.

Please take just a few minutes to share with us your leadership team information so that we can make sure everyone is "in the know" about what's happening across the Conference.

So far, we have only received five responses. This information is extremely important. Please take a few moments to complete this form. It assists the Conference office in updating the UCC National Data Hub Church Staff tab and keeping the SCC Directory current. Thank you!!
Career & Continuing Education Opportunities

During Pride month, three of our most popular webinars are on sale. For just $35, an unlimited number of members of your church can participate from their own computers or devices. ONA 101 and ONA and the Bible are for congregations taking their first steps towards, or just curious about, an Open and Affirming Covenant. Bending Gender is for both ONA and not-yet ONA churches: with transgender and nonbinary Americans under attack in many states, it's time for congregations to understand how to welcome trans and nonbinary seekers into their congregations. 

Tuesday, June 21, 7 pm EDT

This webinar explores how and why congregations can become ONA—in ways that do not divide, but unite the church. Applying the basic ONA principles of “graceful engagement” and “covenant,” ONA 101 has helped hundreds of congregations successfully navigate through an ONA process. 
United Campus Ministries of Greater Houston is seeking an outstanding candidate for the part-time position of Executive Director to begin as soon as practical.

Executive Director / 30 hours per week - $45-48K (benefits included)

Review the entire posting here.
Pathways Theological Education is proud to offer the following courses beginning June 28 - July 4, 2022.

  • Living the Heart of Progressive Christian Theology
  • Preaching for Special Occasions
  • Congregational Ministry and the Future Church
Conference Resources
Bookkeeping Services Now Available
Quality bookkeeping services that are built around the needs of your local church. The Conference now has this resource available to you!

Learn more about what we can offer your congregation!

Resources from Our Covenant Partners
Sometimes you need to ask the difficult question. Deep down inside, you may already know the answer. But it’s not until you actually take the time to assess and realistically address the situation that you decide to act on the solution. While this scenario applies to a variety of issues in life, the topic at hand is the condition of your church property.

Is your congregation considering making improvements on your building to expand ministry or increase revenue? Is it finally addressing deferred maintenance items that worsen every year? Are you ready to reduce your building’s carbon footprint and save money on utilities in the process? Can you enhance digital capabilities to maintain and grow your online community?

If any of these questions apply to you, then now is a good time to talk with the Cornerstone Fund about low-cost loan options that will directly improve your facility and potentially strengthen your congregation.
Clergy Clinic 2022-2023 Registration Now Open
Registration is now open for our Clergy Clinic 2022-2023, both Group A & Group B. 
We invite you to dig deeper into those “mediation skills” concepts and strategies that you learned in MSTI and join us for this outstanding training event! 

We hope you will clear your calendars now for either Group A (Oct. 24-26, 2022; Feb. 13-15, 2023; and April 24-26, 2-23) OR Group B (Nov. 7-9, 2022; Feb. 27-March 1, 2023; and May 15-17, 2023).

If you would like to attend any of the training events, the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center does offer a limited number of partial scholarships. Scholarship Form

Stewardship Webinars
Our friends in the Wisconsin Conference have created a series of online stewardship courses to help congregations consider these concerns, and we encourage you to check them out! Each opportunity has a unique registration button so that you can select those most relevant to your local church. These are offered at no cost, and we hope you'll be able to participate!

New Materials Available for Stewardship
"From Bread and Cup to Faith and Giving" makes the connection between our experience of God and our generosity as disciples. It includes practical tools such as logos, commitment cards, bulletin inserts, and letters. The materials also provide resources for preaching about stewardship throughout the year. Campaign guidance and calendars help leaders make the best use of these robust materials for their specific content and size.
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