HARTFORD (12/7/2015) -- "As a member of the United Church of Christ, you are part of the church the world needs today," said Conference Minister the Rev. Kent Siladi in making this year's appeal to support the Friends of the Conference campaign. The world needs a church that proclaims a wide welcome to all. The world needs a church bold enough to say, "God is Still Speaking."
And this church, a fabric woven of mutual interdependences, needs the support of all its members and friends to do its renewing and transforming work. Gifts to Friends of the Conference supports activities including:
- finding ways to connect churches with each other to share best practices;
- funding new initiatives such as new leadership excellence groups while also supporting the continuation of valued longstanding Conference ministries such as Racial Justice, Environmental, and Youth Ministries including Silver Lake Conference Center;
- making staff available to clergy, church staff and lay leaders in times of crisis;
- supporting churches in the search for and call process for finding new ministers; and
- cultivating a spirit of experimentation and innovation in our Conference and in our churches.
Illustrating the vision, mission, and ministry of the Conference, a new "Weaving our Fabric" brochure accompanies the letter to highlight the commitments and covenants the UCC in Connecticut. Brightened by photos of Easter services, environmental justice marches, Silver Lake Conference Center, and the Youth Revival, the resource also provides more specific information about the Conference's funding sources and ministry projects. The ministry area which receives the most funding — 46% of the expense budget — is Leadership Development and Congregational Vitality. Finance and Development, Administration, and Property Management gets the next largest block, 29% of unrestricted gifts. "While it is common practice for non-profit organizations to allocate overhead to program areas, we choose to be more transparent," says the accompanying explanation. "Without the ongoing support that makes it possible to heat buildings, make copies, track expenses and the like, few of those specific programs could exist."
Following these two largest ministry areas, 12% of gifts support the Office of the Conference Minister and his ministry of leadership, 6% funds Proclamation, Identity, and Communication, 5% supports Silver Lake Conference Center, and 2% sustains the justice ministries of the Conference, including racial justice, environmental justice, and legislative advocacy.
Member churches provide the bulk of unrestricted income to the Connecticut Conference, just under $1.2 million, with just over half coming in the form of Our Church's Wider Mission Basic Support, and 40% in per capita contributions. Friends of the Conference and other gifts accounts for 6% of giving. The Conference also receives directed gifts, which are always distributed or spent according to the appeal or per donor instructions. This includes the portion of OCWM Basic Support that sustains national ministries of the UCC, special offerings, and special appeals. These combine to just over $1.1 million annually.
"In isolation, no single UCC congregation can be the church the world needs today," reads the Vision portion of "Weaving our Fabric." "To be that world-changing church, congregations must join together to support and inspire each other."
The 2015 Friends of the Conference mailing is currently on its way to physical mailboxes around the Conference. Click here to make your contribution.