The Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island Conference of the UCC (called MACUCC) holds a Super Saturday event each fall and spring — a full-day of skill building, networking and discussing best practices on a variety of topics. Each gathering offers an opening worship, a keynote address, and numerous workshops. Church leaders — clergy and lay — have an opportunity to network with one another, share ideas, and compare notes with others on how to “Be the Church.” There were an amazing 50+ sessions offered at this fall’s event and three individuals from FCCW attended several of them:
This session addressed the critical need for civil discourse in our society (and in our churches!). We were taught a multi-step approach for transforming conflict into meaningful dialogue. The main components are deep listening, finding common ground, demonstrating openness, and being willing to work things out. It’s not simple. Our individual views of justice, fairness, and equality combine with our fundamental values and beliefs to create our own unique truths — and all are valid! Learning to see things from another person’s perspective is the key objective in repairing and/or developing relationships that are respectful, authentic, and satisfying. —Sarah Gallop
At the heart of every worship experience is an opportunity to grow closer to God and one another. In this session, we talked about how to build creative and sustainable worship practices that will help to grow individual and collective faith. There is no shortage of spiritual activities to experiment with — prayer, song, dance, art, crafts, meditation, and more. In fact, most anything can be a spiritual practice if there is energy for it… and a willingness to listen for God. Enthusiasm and intention are the primary ingredients for successful spiritual activities. Not everything is for everyone — and that’s OK! The key is to discover what you love, and learn what will open your heart further to God. ~Sarah Gallop
Using the works of Joseph Campbell and Karen Armstrong as a foundation, this group explored how our churches today can “reenergize our faith, rediscover life as mystery, and balance our national, scientific, and technological world with image and wonder.” This workshop was especially interesting in light of our current political climate and shifting national identity. It also dovetailed nicely with FCCW’s Reformation Series. ~Laurie Roby
Led by MACUCC Associate for Racial Justice Ministries, TJ Harper, this workshop aimed to provide the tools and framework for churches and communities that are just starting their journeys toward “acknowledging the impact that racism has on persons, institutions and culture.” By starting with a look at the systemic nature of racism, it then becomes easier to address racism within ourselves as individuals. TJ emphasized not moving too fast too soon, shifting our focus from “them” to “us”, and stretching our tolerance for discomfort with a goal not towards change, but transformation. ~Laurie Roby
This session focused on the language and terms used in the LGBTQIA* community and how the language we use in worship can be more inclusive and expansive regarding gender and sexual orientation. We also discussed the physical building and how it too can be more welcoming to LGBTQIA people. There were people at the session from churches that had been ONA for more than a decade (like FCCW) and some that were just beginning to consider becoming ONA. The group exchanged ideas, shared common and unique experiences, and learned a lot from each other and the session leaders.
*These terms refer to both sexual orientation and gender identity which are two different things. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning or Queer, Intersex, Ally or Asexual – come ask me if you want to know more about what these terms mean and how they are used! (Be cautious when using Queer as it is both a modern-usage proud and empowering word and a historically derogatory word.) ~Anne Hoenicke
All are welcome and encouraged to attend MACUCC conferences — and to bring back your learnings to our congregation! For more information: https://www.macucc.org/