Thank You For Your Generosity!
I want to publicly and enthusiastically thank the churches that have financially supported the mission and ministry of our Southern New England Conference (SNEUCC) and the national setting of the UCC through their Proportional Giving (PG) contributions this year.
Through April 1, we have received $458,355 from 200 churches. Compared to the same time period last year, January 1 to April 1, this is an increase of $133,034 – a phenomenal rebound!! Please know that your increased support of the wider church is making a huge difference for innumerable congregations and lives throughout southern New England, our country, and the world.
When the SNEUCC was being formed, Ephesians 4:15-16 was raised up as a foundational and guiding text, “Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into the One who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”
Early in his ministry Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” In this text, Paul is referring to a single faith community, or church with a lower case ‘c’, where individual people are envisioned as members and parts of the church body.
Later in Ephesians Paul, or a student of his, draws upon this metaphor but reinterprets it so that now the body of Christ is the Church with a capital ‘C’ meaning the Church universal, and each local church possesses an important role as a member and part of the larger body of Christ, the Church (see also Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:20-22; and 4:1-7, 11-14).
Today in 2021, both metaphors – the one initially used in 1 Corinthians 12 and the one used later in Ephesians 4 – are valid and useful as our local churches have dual identities and roles. They are local representations of the body of Christ. They are also individual members and parts making up the larger body of Christ known as the SNEUCC. As such they are components of something greater than themselves.
We are joined and knit together into a larger body. How counter-cultural in our age of radical individualism! How counter to some of our strongly congregationalist traditions, inclinations, and culture! By the way, I was born and raised a congregationalist, so I know of what I speak.
Importantly, it is as a larger body of Christ that a great many have been navigating and continue to navigate this COVID-19 storm. We have heard repeatedly from churches and pastors how grateful they are for the help, support, and resources the SNEUCC has provided. Many have wondered if and how they or their church could have negotiated this storm on their own and/or without drawing on the strength and resources of the larger body.
We are much stronger, able to do much more, and have a greater impact, when we are knit together and working together than we ever could on our own and working separately. As the newly born SNEUCC with our roughly 612 churches, 1200 authorized ministers, and 120,000 members, we undoubtedly still have some “growing up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” and some of “each part working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love” to do.
That said, and as we have seen above, with the financial support from our congregations we are already having a significant effect on people’s and churches’ lives and changing communities. I strongly encourage you to go to our website (https://www.sneucc.org/) and spend some time looking at what we, as a body, have been doing and the great many resources we provide to enable each church, each member of our body, to live out its unique calling and mission and be the strongest, most vibrant "member" it can be.
If you see something there that intrigues you, or if there is something we can help you with, please let us, the SNEUCC staff, know. For truly the stronger, more energized, and alive our churches are, the stronger, more energized, and alive we as a Conference are.
To those who have already made contributions this year – Thank you again for your generosity! We deeply appreciate it and do not take it for granted. With your ongoing financial support, we are able to continue making disciples of Jesus; making God’s love and justice real; bringing new life as agents of change; and forming covenant partnerships for the common good.
To those considering contributing financially and to those who have yet to do so, please let me know if I can be of help, especially regarding PG. I am here to assist and support you in any way I can.
Drawing on the strength of our individual local churches and their financial support, our shared setting of the body of Christ, the SNEUCC, can thrive and continue to have a huge effect on people’s and churches’ lives and communities throughout southern New England.
Your brother in Christ,
Rev. Dr. David Cleaver-Bartholomew, Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 315.753.1375
Rev. Dr. David Cleaver-Bartholomew is the Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations for the SNEUCC.