Annual Gathering

Chapman University & Online

June 7-8, 2024

The SCNC 2024 Annual Gathering

Dear Friends,

It’s been a busy year and the time for Annual Gathering is almost here! While there has indeed been a  lot going on, the Annual Meeting Planning Committee has still been busy planning our time together in June when we will gather to explore the theme BOLD CHURCH BOLD HOPE.

Why this theme? Because it is easy to be discouraged, to give up;  to think that justice will actually never be achieved. It’s easy to think  that welcoming the stranger is nothing more than a slogan that someone dreamed up along the way; or to think that loving one’s neighbor is something that happens only when there’s a crisis rather than a fundamental way of life. It’s too easy to find reasons to feel hopeless. As people of faith, if we truly believe that what know about the gospel is revolutionary, that it really matters, then we can’t be shy about what we say or how we live this reality; we have to rise above all of the noise. We have to be a BOLD Church; we have to embody BOLD HOPE.

Our Scripture: When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:31 NRSV

Our Program: This will be the first opportunity to welcome in person Rev. Rachael Pryor, the newly elected Conference Minister. Rachael will preach at the opening worship service on Friday afternoon. One of the great things about meeting in person is the opportunity for the “side conversations” that can take place without a formal agenda. Rachael welcomes these times and invites those who wish to join her for breakfast on Saturday morning for informal conversation.

Rev. Traci Blackmon will be the keynote speaker on Friday afternoon and will preach the closing worship service on Saturday. Rev. Blackmon served as the Associate General Minister for Justice and Local Church Ministries. (see her full bio here)

There will be workshops and worship, we will recognize ordination anniversaries, say good-bye to interim and acting Conference staff, conduct the business of the Conference  and enjoy being together as the Body of Christ.

Here are some details to attend the Meeting:

Registration Information Early registration with a discount of $20 closes May 18th; regular registration is open May 19-May 31st; there is no registration for in-person attendance after May 31st due to catering and delivery realities. Please do not plan to “walk in” and register on site on Friday or Saturday morning. 

Attending in Person: $175.00 for early registration, $195.00 for regular (includes Friday lunch and dinner; Saturday breakfast and lunch)

Attending Virtually: $100.00 for early bird registration and $120.00 after May 18.

Childcare will be available $40.00 per child; more information will be available soon.

Exhibits: There will be space for exhibitors. That information will be available on the website, or you may Contact Virginia Arroyo at for information to request information.

Housing will NOT be available at Chapman, but there are many hotels in the area. A limited number of rooms are available on a first come first served at a Conference rate at the Hotel Fera, A Doubletree Hotel in Orange. Here is the link that can be used to secure a room for Friday night at the Conference rate. Remember there is a limited number available. Booking Link – Southern CA Nevada Conference – Attendees

We hope that all authorized ministers and voting delegates will indeed attend in person! But if you can’t be physically present, join virtually for this hybrid meeting! While it may not be ideal for everything, ZOOM is a very important resource, and if that is the option that works best for you, we welcome you to join the meeting virtually.

We look forward to seeing and welcoming you to Annual Gathering!

Rev. Wally Hoeger 
Moderator and Chair
Annual Gathering Planning Committee

Edith Guffey
Annual Gathering Planning Committee

*Everyone is expected to register; if the registration amount presents an undue burden, please contact Kris; please don’t stay away because of the cost.

**If financial assistance is needed for housing as University Housing is not available, please, contact Kris as well. Again, we don’t want anyone to stay away because of cost.


Rev. Rachael Pryor

Newly Elected Conference Minister and Preacher at Opening Worship

Rev. Rachael Pryor currently serves (yes, STILL) as Associate Conference Minister with the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, as well as Designated Associate Conference Minister for the Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Tri-Conference. Rachael will  begin her service formally as Conference Minister of  Southern California Nevada right before Annual Gathering, June 1st.

Her primary focus is with Committees on Ministry, but she also has experience with Search and Call, Annual Meeting Planning, communications, board development, and financial planning. She has served on the planning committee for the biannual Authorizing Ministry in the 21st Century Conference, sponsored by MESA (Ministerial Excellence Support and Authorization Team) in the national offices, and as a resolutions committee chair at the last General Synod. Rachael also works as Director of Engagement with Kansas Interfaith Action (KIFA), a statewide non-partisan legislative advocacy organization. Prior to assuming the Director of Engagement role, Rachel served for six years on the Board of Directors of KIFA (three as Chair)  and helped grow KIFA from a single part-time staff to more than 5 full-time staff while tripling the budget. 

At the intersection of all these roles, Rachael finds a focus in building relationships and making connections. Her approach is strongly inspired by community organizing methods and influenced by the covenantal polity of the UCC. She has  participated in both versions of the UCC Sacred Conversations on Race; the first in 20114 and the second 2018 Sacred Conversations to End Racism (SC2ER) created by Dr. Velda Love.   

From a family of farmers, teachers, and union workers in Southeast Michigan, Rachael grew up at Sylvania UCC just outside Toledo, Ohio, in the Northwest Association of the Ohio Conference.  She attended National Youth Event in 1996, where she learned of Woodstock International School in Mussoorie, India – the place where she would later graduate from high school.  After a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and two years teaching English through the Fulbright program in Austria, Rachael spent a year at Eden Seminary before transferring to Princeton Seminary for her M.Div. (class of ’07). She has served local churches with the UCC, ELCA, and Episcopal Church in California, Pennsylvania, and Kansas.

Rachael currently lives in Lindsborg, Kansas with her husband Adam and their children Henry (13), Greta (10), Linus (4), and Melody (almost 2). She reads voraciously in all genres, plays tuba in the community band, cooks from scratch, and dreams of getting back to long-distance running as the snow begins to melt. 

Rev. Traci deVon Blackmon

Keynote Speaker, Workshop Leader, Closing Preacher

Rev. Blackmon is the CEO & Founder of HopeBuilds, LLC, a newly launched consultancy for communities, corporations, and congregations eager to build the just and equitable world they imagine. She also serves as theologian in residence for Eden Theological Seminary and Chaplain for the Central Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

As an ordained minister, public theologian, and registered nurse, Rev. Blackmon’s life’s work focuses on communal resistance to systemic injustice. She served as a local church pastor in both the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ prior to accepting a call to serve as Associate General Minister and Vice-President of the United Church of Christ from 2016-2023, working collaboratively to launch several anchor initiatives for the denomination. Upon resignation, Rev. Blackmon launched HopeBuilds, LLC to further advance ministry in the public square.

Her messages of hope and healing are received by local congregations, national, and international audiences including the White House, the Carter Center, and the Pontifical Council of the Vatican. Other international speaking engagements include the Festival of Homiletics, Chautauqua Institute, Children’s Defense Fund, SURRENDER in Melbourne, Australia, Kirchentag in Nuremberg, Germany, and a national tour with The Poor People’s Campaign: A Call for Moral Revival.

Appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Jay Nixon and to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships by President Barack Obama. She also serves as a trustee on the boards of The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Americans United for Separation of Church & State, and the World Parliament of Religions.

A native of Birmingham, AL, Rev. Blackmon is a Distinguished Alumnus of Birmingham-Southern College where she she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Eden Theological Seminary and an Honorary Doctorate of Ministry from the same. “Pastor T,” as she is affectionately called, is the recipient of several awards and honors for which she is deeply grateful. Her guiding scripture is Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me.”

Dr. Peter E. Makari, Ph.D.

In Depth on Israel/Palestine
Saturday Morning Plenary

Peter serves as Global Relations Minister for the Middle East and Europe with the Common Global Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a position he has held since July 1, 2000.

He serves on the National Council of Churches’ Interreligious Convening Table, of which he is a co-convener, and has been an active participant in national Jewish-Christian and Muslim-Christian dialogue initiatives.  He represents the UCC and Disciples on the Faith Forum for Middle East Policy, of which he is a co-convener, and on the board of Churches for Middle East Peace.  He also represents the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on the Steering and Executive Committees of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign.

An Egyptian-American, Peter has lived in the Middle East, where he worked with the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) in Cairo, Egypt (1991-1994), and then with the Middle East Council of Churches, based in Limassol, Cyprus (1997-2000).

Peter earned an M.A. in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo (1993) and a Ph.D. in Politics and Middle East Studies from New York University (2003).  He is the author of Conflict and Cooperation: Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Egypt (Syracuse University Press, 2007).

Peter is a member of West Park United Church of Christ in Cleveland, OH.

Agenda & Schedule

Friday June 7, 2024

8:30 AM - 6:30 PM

8:30 a.m.
Pick Up Materials and Visit Exhibits

10 a.m.
Pre-Meeting Workshops

11:30 a.m.
Lunch (Rm 404 Beckman Hall)

1:00 p.m.
Gathering Music, Opening Worship

1:30 p.m.
Business – Introductions, welcome, reports

2:15 p.m.
Stretch Break

2:30 p.m.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon

3:30 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

5:15 p.m.
Dinner (Rm 404 Beckman Hall)

6:30 p.m.
An Evening of Recognitions and Thanks

Saturday June 8, 2024

7:30 AM - 2:15 PM

7:30 a.m.
Breakfast (Rm 404 Beckman Hall)

8:45 a.m.
Gathering Music, Worship

9:15 a.m.
In Depth on Israel and Palestine with Dr. Peter Makari

10:45 a.m.

11 a.m.

  • Speak Out
  • Vote on the Nomination Committee
  • Vote on the Budget
  • Installation of Persons Elected to Serve

12:15 p.m.
Lunch (Rm 404 Beckman Hall)

1:00 p.m.

  • Resolution Presentation and Action
  • Closing Words of Thanks
  • Motion to Adjourn Following Worship

2:15 p.m.
Closing Worship
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, preacher

Worship and Plenary in Wallace Chapel

Workshops and Meals in Beckman Hall

Nomination Slate (Proposed)

(C) Central Association | (E) Eastern Association | (N) Northern Association | (S) Southern Association | (L) Laity | (P) Clergy


All workshops will be recorded for viewing at a later date.

One of the areas of Annual Gathering that participants look forward to is the workshop offerings. This is a time to learn something new to take back to your congregation, to brush up on some skills and to be inspired in a new way. Below are just a few of the topics that will be offered at this Annual Gathering. Check back soon for additional confirmed workshops, full titles, descriptions and biographical information on the presenters. If you have a workshop that you are just SURE will be of interest to a wide group, send an email to Edith Guffey ( ) with your name, contact information, a description of the workshop and your contact information. Edith will contact you for a conversation. There are a few unfilled workshop slots available.

Workshops & Presenters PDF

Topic: UCC Our Faith Our Vote

Topic: The PC Church (Post-COVID) Exciting new ways to be church in this post COVID world.

Topic: Church Fundraising: How to raise money for ministry effectively, legally, and have fun in the process

Topic: Israel/Palestine and A Prophetic Witness for a Just Peace

Topic: One on One; Deepening Relationships Through Listening

Topic Undefined: Presenter Rev. Traci Blackmon

Ways to Give

Annual Gathering gifts will be divided equally among Pilgrim Pines Camperships, SCNC Justice Grants, and The Dan Romero Center.

Pilgrim Pines Camp and Camperships

Pilgrim Pines Camp continues to need financial support in this time of transition and new beginnings. We need your help to continue the incredible legacy of ministry at Pilgrim Pines for future generations. Your campership donations help to ensure that all campers are able to participate in our welcoming and inclusive community, to grow and transform their communities and our whole world!

SCNC Justice Grants

Rev. William Sloan Coffin served as pastor of Riverside Church in New York City for many years. He wrote: “Had I but one wish for the churches of America, I think it would be that they come to see the difference between charity and justice. Charity is a matter of personal attributes, justice a matter of public policy. Charity seeks to alleviate the effects of injustice; justice seeks to eliminate the causes of it. Charity in no way affects the status quo, while justice inevitably leads to political confrontation. Especially I would hope that Christians would see that the compassion that moved the Good Samaritan to act charitably was the same compassion that prompted Biblical prophets to confront injustice, speak truth to power...”

The Southern California Nevada Conference acknowledges that both charity and justice are important. At this point in our collective journey, we seek to change the status quo and support congregations that are committed to eliminating the causes of injustice. Consequently, the Board has committed to making decisions that promote racial justice, equity, and inclusion and to equipping our congregations to literally widen their welcome as they challenge prejudice and barriers that limit people of varying cultures, identities, and abilities.

A portion of the gifts you give at Annual Gathering will be used for grants to local congregations that are engaged in specific justice related projects in their local communities.

The Dan Romero Center, Centro Romero

Named for former Conference Minister, Rev. Dan Romero, Centro Romero is a worship community that facilitates immersion seminars, service projects, and educational opportunities along the US-Mexico border between San Diego and Tijuana.

A mission partner of Common Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples) as well as the SCNVC and Southern Association, Centro Romero has had a special interest in advocacy, economic justice, and environmental justice. They welcome migrant children traveling on their own, single mothers traveling with their children, and other vulnerable populations. Centro Romero provides housing, food, medical attention, psychological support, and pastoral care for families and individuals seeking political asylum and affected by current United States immigration policies. 

During the height of the pandemic, Centro Romero prioritized care for single mothers and their children moving them from tents into hotel rooms where they were more isolated from the coronavirus. Centro Romero also is identified U.S. and Mexican pharmacies and labs along the border where COVID-19 tests could be sourced for use in the community.

If you have ever watched the crisis at the border and wondered how you can help; here’s a chance. Your gifts at Annual Gathering will support the work of Centro Romero right here, right now in the Southern California Nevada Conference.

Documents & Minutes



AG Minutes

2024 Special Meeting Minutes

Resolution Calling for Ceasefire


2025 Proposed Budget

2025 Proposed Budget Narrative

Profit & Loss Narrative

Five for Five Congregations

Team Reports

Know Your Conference Leaders

Conference Accessibility Team Report

UCC/DOC Global Ministries Team Report

Chapman University Report

Board Chair Report

Pilgrim Pines Report

National Reports

United Church Funds

Mental Health Network

The Cornerstone Fund

The Pension Boards

Thank you to the UCC Financial Ministries for Sponsoring Annual Gathering

The national ministries below are the Financial Ministries of the United Church of Christ. While they each have their own mandate, their own Board of Directors, they work closely together to serve the local congregations and can tell you if their ministry can meet the needs of your congregation. Or they can tell you if the needs of the congregation will be better served by working with another financial ministry. The point is that the congregation comes first. 

While the Pension Boards is included and works with the Financial Ministries, their mandate is to serve clergy and lay employees, both current and retirees.  

The work of all of these ministries is work you should know about as what they do supports ministry in so many ways across the life of the church. Below are links to the website. Some have provided copies of their Annual Reports or letters with information about their work. We invite you to take time to read and learn more about ministry beyond your local congregation and beyond Southern California Nevada.