Justice and Church Development awards given at 215th Annual Meeting

Justice and Church Development awards given at 215th Annual Meeting


The Massachusetts Conference honored a number of individuals and churches at the 215th Annual Meeting June 14 in recognition of their ministries. A look at the honorees follows:

2014 Justice and Witness Haystack Awards for outstanding service in charitable mission/justice

Awarded to Christopher Blake and Daniel Hall, for their work in promoting, supporting and sustaining the work and mission of the Uganda Rural Fund.

Chris Blake’s and Dan Hall’s passion and commitment to social service, education and health care have had a remarkable effect on the lives of the people of Kytume and Masaka, in southern Uganda.  In addition to the impact of their work in Uganda, Chris and Dan have worked tirelessly to promote the work of the URF in the United States, and have raised awareness in their own congregation, The Pilgrim Church of Duxbury, United Church of Christ, of the devastating effects of poverty, of lack of access to health care and the plight of child-led households in communities severely impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Chris has been a passionate and creative advocate for the children and families of the community around the village of Kytume. He has a deep sensitivity to the people and their lives, and is always committed to empowering local leadership to envision and define their own vision and program. Chris has been instrumental in sharing the story of the URF through personal presentations and through development of resources. His capacity to articulate the lives of the families and children the URF serves has lent much to the success of their ministry.

Dan follows a long line of family members who have devoted their lives to the service of communities through international mission. He is a direct descendant of Gordon Hall, one of five missionaries commissioned at the Salem Tabernacle in 1812. For his own part, Dan has devoted his life to the service of others. He served as a UCC missionary in southern Africa, and worked locally as a case worker for Pine Street Inn in Boston. In his trips to Uganda, Dan has invested the children and families of Masaka and Kytume with hope. Through his teaching, his leadership, his singing, and his generous financial support, Dan has fostered growth and promise to the people struggling on the margins of our world.

The Justice and Witness Council feels that these two dedicated and faithful people exemplify the core spirit of the Haystack awards – reaching out into the world in mission and justice as well as transforming their own community at home.

2014 Haystack Award Nominees

Rev. Dr. Nancy Taylor, Marilyn Adams and Diane Gaucher for their work in the aftermath of the Boston bombings and in particular the scarf project. Old South Church, Boston
Elliott Stratton for his years of tireless service on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed. South Congregational Church, Springfield
Eloise Clawson for her 30-year supportive, collaborative relationship with Dr. Vicky Guzman, founder of the organization ASAPROSAR (Salvadoran Association for Rural Health- established 1986). United Church of Christ, Norwell
Joan Appleton for her work in addressing the problem of hunger in and around the town of Acton over the past 30 years is exemplary. Acton Congregational Church, Acton

2014 Church Development Bold New Initiative Awards

Awarded to Estelle Margarones of Pilgrim Church in North Weymouth for the Mind, Body and Spirit events; and to the Hispanic Ministry Working Team.

Mind, Body, Spirit is a new program developed this year by Pilgrim Church of North Weymouth with funding from a Pilgrim Association vitality grant.  Mind, Body, Spirit was started last fall to reach out to the spiritual but not religious in the North Weymouth area.  Pilgrim Church has been implementing its vision to feature town officials such as those from the Weymouth Substance Abuse Prevention Program, medical professionals from South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, community artists; holistic practitioners, 12-Step group leaders, and environmentalists speaking on such topics as addiction, mind/body connection, wellness, nutrition, stress reduction, optimism, exercise, music, art, poetry, theatre, relaxation, yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki, and the environment.

Relationships have been established with community organizations to serve as speakers and workshop leaders and to provide volunteer activities. Each monthly program includes a guided meditation led by Pilgrim’s minister and the inspiration behind this program, Estelle Margarones.  Pilgrim renovated a room to make it welcoming. Often, the workshop has a service project for a follow-up activity. There are ten core attendees, 6 from the congregation and 4 from the community (Weymouth, Rockland, and Braintree).  Some attendees and others who have learned of this small church because of this outreach program have come to Sunday worship. On a recent Sunday there were ten visitors!
The Mind, Body, Spirit program of Pilgrim Church in North Weymouth exemplifies what a small congregation can do to support the spiritual but not religious in the community. 

The Hispanic Ministries Working Team is one of the task force groups of the Church Development Council. The purpose of the Hispanic Ministry Working Team (HMWT) is to bring together all interested people who seek to participate in the important set of ministries related to the presence and impact of Latino/Latina people in Hispanic and Anglo churches and communities. There are five areas they have focused on in the past year. First, The team has worked on ways to support current Hispanic Churches and Emerging Ministries by identifying educational opportunities for the emerging Leadership. Second, help Hispanic Ministries and local churches strengthen covenantal relationships that address the relative shift in local regional and national demographics. Third, cultivate partnerships impacted by emerging Latino Communities in Local church neighborhoods with a new framework of communication. Fourth, building relationships with the public at large and its Leaders in the Latino/Latina communities in order to identify programs and projects that uphold a witness of justice and commitment. Finally, they have worked hard to create a comprehensive financial development and stewardship plan of action where they will engage potential donors.
We celebrate the ongoing work that exemplifies the Church Development Council’s commitment in identifying and spotlighting Bold New Initiatives.  The following people were recognized for their collaboration vision and faithfulness in making God’s love and Justice real:  Felix Carrion (Consultant), Cesar DePaz (Consultant), Lisa DePaz (Consultant), Jonathan Goodell, Peter Lovett, Robert Ochoa, Yesenia Menendez, Danneza Torres, Esther Rendon Thompson, Don Remick  (MACUCC staff), Bob Pazmino and Edwin Navarrete.    

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