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A Big Shot in the Arm!

by Susan Jakubowski-Weiner

     Have you ever been with a LARGE group of people who happen to feel the same way you do about a number of faith, justice, environmental and social issues?  I happen to get that “fix” most years when our congregation, San Marino Congregational UCC,  graciously offers to send me (often times by default) to the Southern California Nevada Conference Annual Gathering.  This year I joined Pastor Donald, Moderator Carol Barrett and Cathy Katowski on the second Friday and Saturday of June for that uplifting experience.  We participated in opening and closing worship on both days of our gathering experience.  Each service was unique, including prayer and song in a multitude of languages, songs lead by mariachis, Samoan youth and adult choirs.  We also experienced the power of being with our UCC brothers and sisters of every walk, color and tradition.  Ask any attendee about the powerful words offered by Ms. Waltrina Middleton, our Minister for Youth Advocacy and Leadership Formation with our national office.  She brought down the house after our mighty UCC Conference youth presented a dynamic worship service collaboratively with her. 

     If you’ve been around a while, you have heard my challenge:  Please block out those days way in advance and plan to attend.  BUT, next year, we won’t be having an Annual Gathering.  Something much more exciting is in store for YOU! 

     Our very first workshop addressed the UCC’s biannual Synod.  It will be held next June 28 – July 2 right in our back yard, at the Long Beach Convention Center!  Our conference will host an expected 3,000 nationwide (and beyond) attendees, with our Association’s own Long Beach Congregational Church serving as our host church site.  More than 350 volunteers will be needed, so you will have an opportunity to experience this maybe once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (and possibly receive free registration).  

     During another workshop Rev. Jake Pomeroy from Pasadena First Congregational Church dialogued with us on how to better raise the needed funds to keep our churches alive and thriving.  As you may know, UCC has no “home office” to financially carry us through tough times.  Our governance occurs at each local church. We need to become more effective in not only raising the operational funds we require but in how to effectively appeal to the new generation of younger worshippers among us. 

     During sessions of our business meetings, the Conference budget (which Our Church’s Wider Mission supports) was approved, and important resolutions were passed.  One approved Conference resolution was for support for Council of Racial and Ethnic Minorities (COREM) voice to be given to our Samoan brother and sisters, and the other approved the development of a safe church policy

     We chatted with representatives from many of the 145 churches in our Conference during lunch and dinner times.  Worship, stewardship and growth ideas were discussed.  Ordinations, new appointments, including our very own Pastor Donald, and new ONA churches were celebrated.  The joyful arrival of the West Hollywood UCC Church was cheered.  After being a Presbyterian church for more than 100 years in West Hollywood, its gay long-term minister and mostly gay congregation were asked to leave and take the church’s property with them.  As reported in the L.A. Times, after a period of study and discernment UCC became the denomination of choice for this congregation this May.  Members joyfully attended their first Gathering, saying it was the most accepted they had felt as Christians!

     Come experience the unknown. A world of enthusiasm, joy and excitement awaits you in Long Beach next June and July!


One Response to “A Big Shot in the Arm!”
  1. Karen Tucker says:

    What a great description of the Annual Gathering! Thank you Susan for sharing your thoughts with us. This is the first one I’ve missed in a long time and I love your message of unity when surrounded by other Christians and the Holy Spirit. Looking forward to the Synod! Peace and Love, Karen

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