Dave and Becky Stambaugh of the Greens Farms Church of Westport, CT facilitated the online experience on April 25 which included over fifty participants from six SNE churches. The program began with an overview of the UCC Values using the creative six-word structure. Dave boiled down the UCC beliefs into these categories: We, Welcome, Worship, Watch, Witness, and Work.
The words were a format to address concepts of covenant, inclusion, sacraments, spiritual practices, testimony, and advocacy. Leaders asked open-ended questions around each such as “Who is included in the community of faith?” “When have your heard God speak to you?” and “Where have you seen God at work?”
SNEUCC minister of Faith Formation, Debbie Gline Allen created a video, UCC in 3 Minutes for the occasion. It names the United Church of Christ ‘firsts’ and other distinctive characteristics of our denomination.
Each church group set off for breakout rooms where they reflected on one of those words and how their particular congregation expresses it. The results were both light-hearted and profound.
Seymour and Stamford presented six scrambled words as a quiz on the word we, which was solved as “We wish for more in we.” Then participants unpacked a bit.
“Stamford recently sold its church building, so we are trying to be a church that is not just ‘us,’ but connected to the larger community,” commented Andrew Laro, Director of Faith Formation.
Ashley Adams, Director of Faith Formation at Seymour Congregational Church noted that their “we” has expanded through live-streaming worship and reaching even beyond the state-wide.
The group from Clinton, MA prepared a song to show how they exemplify the word welcome: “Warm smile, affirmation, extending loving fellowship.” Youth from Portland Congregational summed up elements of worship like this: “Together we’re thankful for Jesus’ friendship.” The confirmation class from Gilead Congregational in Hebron, CT reflected that one way to connect to God is to listen carefully. They summed up the word watch this way: “God is among us if we’re attentive.”
Kensington youth and their mentors tackled the final two words. Witness was described as “Our mission: teach, connect, help, include.” The word work had a unique spin that referred to two favorite fundraisers: “Sharing voices, helping communities, pies & lobsters!”
Becky Stambaugh led the group in a closing meditation using a praying-in-color technique. Youth considered which of the six words had the most meaning for them at this point of their journey. Thy used the reflection to identify their questions for God, and as well as questions for mentors or models of faith within their own congregation.
“Confirmation is a journey of discovery and reflection and this program not only offered space for conversation also reflection. We offer our blessing to these and all young disciples who will confirm their faith this year,” said Debbie Gline Allen, Minister of Faith Formation.
What are your congregation’s plans for Confirmation in the 21-22 program year?
Fill out this BRIEF SURVEY to let us know how we can serve you better.
Debby Kirk is the Faith Formation Team Leader of the Southern New England Conference. She serves on the Faith Formation Team and oversees the Youth and Young Adult Ministries programs of the Conference. She organizes leadership development programs ...