2019 annual gathering workshop descriptions

UCC History and Theology

With Rev. Dr. Rollin Russell

The sessions on United Church of Christ History and Theology will include the historical roots of the UCC in Europe as well as its denominational roots in America.  We will see how our faith and practices have been formed over the generations, paticularly through our commitment to Christian unity.  We will look closely at our unique policies on controversial public issues and how they were developed.  We will study the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith and discuss our church's theological perspectives. 

Environmental Justice


Join the Creation Justice Network to learn how your church can take on new, fresh initiatives to serve and protect God's creation.  Rev. LaShauna Austria will be speaking about church/community gardening; Gary Smith on composting and how to be a Zero Waste church; Rev. Sarah Horton-Campbell on the mission and development of a church farm; Rev. Dele on teaching young people to become good stewards of the earth through her Soil & Souls network; Rev. Randy Orwig on how to finance and install solar panels; and Rev. Mac Legerton and Rev. Gail McAfee on their new initiative, the Southeastern NC Climate, Disaster, and Justice Ministry.  You'll see video clips of "on the ground" footage of these wonderful initiatives, followed by discussion and Q & A among panelists and participants.  Come be Green! 

Congregations Dreaming Into the Future

With Elizabeth Kennett

Congregations are beautiful communities of faithful people who have the wonderful opportunity to help life be better for those who are already connected to the congregation and to those whom the congregation ministers.  How is your congregation dreaming?  This workshop will explore possibilities and opportunities for congregations who want to live in vital and thriving ways.  We will explore a process to help your congregation dream into a new future.  And, we will explore options for congregations as they look to the future, even if they are concerned the future may be bleak.  Join us for engaging conversation and creative thinking as you think about your future.  

Thrive in Your Ministry – Resources Now Available Through the Catawba Clergy Network

With Rev. Betty Morton

Like any organization, the health and vitality of a church is strongly linked to the health and vitality of its leadership.  Pastors and lay leaders need resources, relationships and opportunities for rest and renewal to thrive in ministry.  Catawba College, rooted in the UCC, has received Lilly Endowment funding to help our ministers thrive -- with the hope and expectation that UCC clergy will take advantage of these resources. This session is designed to make clergy and lay leaders aware of small grants, self-care opportunities and leadership development programming now available through the Catawba Clergy Network.  

Boundaries and Best Pastoral Practices

With Rev. Jim Luck

What is “Boundaries & Best Pastoral Practices” all about?

It’s about a church taking children to a park during worship without getting permission. 

It’s about the anger of a family member who learned of a relative’s death on a church Facebook page. 

It’s about a rape survivor told “We ALWAYS hug at this church.” 

It’s about an 82 year old woman assaulted because she always took home the Sunday offering. 

It’s about #metoo and #churchtoo. 

In other words, it’s about ministry & learning with and from colleagues how we can do it more effectively.

Engaging the Community

With Rev. Gary Leath

In an era of declining church attendance community engagement is critical for a healthy church that follows the example of Christ and a congregation that follows the example set by Jesus.  How do we help to grow the church and advance the mission of the church of Jesus Christ.  Transformation is the key.  Transforming members and communities into passionate participants of the mission of the church of Jesus Christ Time and time again it's the engaged community that advances the mission of the church. The goal of this session is to help define(what are community needs) dissolve (break it down to simple steps) and discuss(how do we carry out that mission today) using new or existing methods to engage the community in the mission of the church of Jesus Christ. 

Disaster Response and Recovery in the Southern Conference: Opportunities and Challenges

With Rev. Ken Skalitzky

 This workshop will highlight the impacts of Hurricanes Matthew and Florence in North Carolina and explore the current status of the recovery. UCC Disaster Ministries is engaged in the long-term recovery through a variety of programs and grants supporting operations of other voluntary agencies and faith based organizations. But there remains many opportunities and challenges for survivors of these and other disasters especially in light of the beginning of 2019 Hurricane Season on June 1, 2019. Ken Skalitzky, Disaster Recovery Specialist will be joined by Reverends Gail McAfee and Mac Legerton as they discuss a variety of projects UCC and the Southern Conference are engaged in. 

The Jesus Movement: Buildings as a Means to an End

With Rev. Sara Wilcox

Often folks in the church want to become more deeply committed to mission. Sometimes their buildings get in the way. How do we boldly live out our faith? Follow Jesus. You will upset the neighbors. You will make people uncomfortable. You will ask people to stretch themselves and change. All of this happens when you follow Jesus. Following Jesus isn't about your pews, your stained glass windows, your new sign. Make sure your building is a means to your end: Following Jesus. Don't let your building be the end of your church.

Rural Congregations in a World Turned Upside Down 

With Dr. Brian Foreman

Global forces are impacting the rural church, making it seem as if the world is upside down. While some of the issues the church faces are significant challenges, this conversation will focus on distinguishing why we don’t need to panic, but rather respond from faithfulness and the assets with which God has already blessed our congregations and communities.

 When Old Solutions Don’t Work Anymore 

With Dr. Brian Foreman

Leadership is a skill to be developed and a talent to be nurtured. There are many ways in which we lead, however, the assessments we make about how to solve problems may be the biggest hindrance to solving those problems. Adaptive leadership is different from technical leadership, and while they both have their correct place and time for implementation, and the latter is often misapplied. Clergy don’t need to lead from expertise as much as from relationship and context.