80% of gifts received will be put to work for ministries within the Conference; 20% will support national ministries of the United Church of Christ.
"This year, we find ourselves in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and many of us questioned the wisdom of moving ahead with this appeal," they wrote. "We had much discussion about asking for donations from our churches and their congregants as we all are dealing with perhaps the biggest crisis any of us has ever known. After discussion and prayer, the collective wisdom of our staff was that this was the perfect time to ask for an offering to strengthen the church."
Materials have been emailed to each church for distribution for inclusion in bulletins and newsletters.
In a letter announcing the offering, the Bridge Conference Ministers write:
"One of the blessings of the coming together of three historical conferences is that we get to take the best from each forward into our new Conference. Two years ago, the Connecticut Conference restructured the 'Strengthen the Church' special offering to allow congregations in Connecticut the opportunity to contribute more directly to high impact Conference ministries. It worked in Connecticut and was expanded to include Massachusetts the following year. In both years, this experiment has proven successful and so we plan to continue this structure and expand it to include all of our 608 churches."
"Over the past three years this offering has been used to support our faith formation and youth and young adult ministries. If ever there was a time when our young people will need to learn about God’s enduring love, even in time of crisis, it is now. This crisis will come to an end and the Southern New England Conference will need to be strong, as we move into life as a church in a new way. These funds will help us do that," they wrote.
Funds collected through the offering will be used for outdoor ministries through the Silver Lake, Irons Homestead and Edwards House Retreat Centers, faith formation ministries, and youth and young adult ministries. Examples of programs the offering will support can be found at: sneucc.org/strengthen-the-church. A downloadable flyer is also available on the page.
The recommended date for receiving the offering is Pentecost Sunday, May 31st.
Strengthen the Church is one of the special offerings counted toward "5 for 5" designation by the denomination.
Checks should be made payable to SNEUCC, with ‘STC 2020’ in the memo line, and mailed to either the Hartford or Framingham office. Please feel free to contact Emily McKenna at if you have any questions.