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ed a time line predicting that we expected to com- plete the Listening Phase in about eight months, including interviews with top prospective donors to test the feasibility of achieving the campaign goals. The time line called for a Conference vote to pro- ceed with the Gifting Phase of the campaign in June 2003.

The Committee set to work on this ambitious pro- gram with great energy: we invited more than 1,200 potential donors, clergy and key church leaders to eight different Awareness Events held in various locations around the state; we created and distrib- uted a special edition of ConnTact; and we contin- ued to cultivate potential donors, both individuals and churches. Despite these efforts, it became clear after a few months that we would need much longer than eight months to complete the Listening Phase. We will need more time partly because of wide- spread concerns about present economic condi- tions. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, this is not yet the season for making gifts. Many churches and individ- uals are uncertain about their financial security and are not able to have a conversation now about their participation in a capital fund campaign.

The other and more significant reason for taking more time to do the Listening Phase is that for pur- poses of a capital campaign the Connecticut Conference is really the 256 local churches that comprise the Conference. Because financial com- mitments are made locally, each participating church will need an opportunity for dialogue about its own vision for ministry and the ways the church will be able to collaborate with other churches in faithful response to the movement of the Holy Spirit amongst us.

Because the Listening Phase – a process of dialogue and discernment – needs time, the Planning Committee has postponed for at least a year the decision to proceed with the Gifting Phase of the campaign. The season for making gifts – for “pluck- ing up what is planted” – will come, but in the meantime we have plenty of work to do in this sea- son of preparing the soil and planting and cultivat- ing. We are making plans to have a conversation about Now For the Future in which each church can participate. This is both an enormous logistical chal- lenge and a God-given opportunity for all of us to participate now in shaping the future of ministry in Connecticut.

We are grateful for the extraordinary gifts of time and energy from Diane Ciba, Campaign Coordinator, and from each of the planning com- mittee members: Alan Greene, Hannah Howe, David Spollett, Susan Waldron, Bill Zito, and Davida Foy Crabtree. Thank you all.

Kate and Hugh McLean, Co-chairs


“Celebrate the Past – Focus on the Future,” our 75th Annual Meeting theme, could easily describe my year. I celebrate the past presidents of our organiza- tion whose collective wisdom is an inspiration to all. And a focus on the future reminds me of the

women in groups across our Conference who are trying new things, exploring new options and orga- nizing new groups to worship, study, and serve.

It is a pleasure to work with the lay and clergy women of the State Board. Members of our teams continue to produce good work and connections to facilitate programming. Pam DiDio, our Secretary, works hard to keeps things moving. The Communicator has a new look thanks to editor Angela Powell. With heavy hearts we said goodbye to Betty $inclaire, our Treasurer of many years. And our web page has become a reality at ctucc.org/people/ctwomen. Thanks to Eric Anderson for his help with this and many other communication challenges.

“Focus on the Future” makes me think of opportuni- ties available to women across our Conference, working with teams at the Conference, Association, District and Regional levels. Ladies recognized dur- ing our Annual Meeting know the rewards of such work. We continue to find the special woman in congregations to be a representative to the State Board. Thanks to each of you for the important job you do, keeping the women of your congregation informed. Many of the women I meet serve on Regional and National Boards and Committees. What an inspiration they are!

Marjorie Brown and I were nominated by Connecticut Women and the Connecticut Conference of the U. C. C as 2003 Honored Lay Women and attended a special luncheon in our honor during the 24th General Synod. We are hum- bled and honored by this recognition. As we are honored, all of you are honored as our sisters in Christ’s work.

Respectfully submitted, Susan S Waldron


The Ruth Dudley Resource Center (RDRC) serves the Connecticut Conference by providing a wide variety of resources for the churches’ ministries. Both print and video resources are available to support education, outreach, jus- tice, stewardship, worship and spiritual growth. We seek to stay current by pur- chasing new or revised resources regularly; in the past year we have added a number of new volumes in the areas of teaching ministry, creative arts, human rights and tolerance, non-violence and youth ministry. In addition, we have a variety of curricula available for churches to consider as they select

materials for their church school programs, includ- ing Bible Quest, Seasons of the Spirit and Vacation Bible School. This year a major project in the resource center was begun as a follow up to last year’s annotated bibliog- raphy of materials on non-violence. Many people expressed appreciation for that listing. We now have bibliographies about peace resources and another on materials about environmental justice. Other bibliographies to follow are: Science and Faith, Economic Justice, Ministry with Persons with Disabilities, the Death Penalty, Abuse/Domestic Violence, and Homosexuality. These lists will be available on line and will serve as quick reference tools for our patrons.

The bar coding project of all our RDRC materials will be completed mid-summer and visitors to the on line catalog will be able to tell whether a particular resource is on the shelf or not. Also completed by mid-summer will be a listing of materials in the resource center that may help church school teach- ers find supplementary activities for the “Seasons of the Spirit” curriculum.

The RDRC is located in the Conference Office, main level, directly behind the reception area. The director is in the center every weekday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will arrange Saturday hours for those who request them.


Hope abounds at Silver Lake! This has been an extraordinary year at Silver Lake with many things to remember with joy and sad- ness. Dana Sears, SLCC Director for the past five years resigned, moving on to other youth and camp- related work with the Hartford Region YWCA. I was brought on board to serve as Transition Director until the new director arrives, probably in late summer or early fall.

Wintertime is always a beautiful and peaceful time at the Lake with lots of snow, deer, owls and more snow. December and January were difficult months for SLCC with harsh winter storms, the fire that destroyed the Health Center and the death of Justin Ramos, a Silver Lake staff member. A temporary structure is in place for this summer, with a new health center building hopefully in place for sum- mer 2004. Friends and family members attended two very special memorial services at the Lake in memory of Justin.

Change and loss are usually difficult for those left behind and so true for those who believe in the vision and mission of the Silver Lake Conference Center. One staff member attending the Coordinators training in May commented, “Thank God that the Holy Spirit landed and stayed amongst us all at Silver Lake.” How true! With all the diffi- culties experienced, Silver Lake board, former staff, parents, former conferees, and volunteers from our churches came up to the Lake weekend after week-


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end just to be present for assisting retreat groups, working in the kitchen, helping Mike White, Property Manager, with plowing, shoveling and other chores, plus supporting each other through the grieving process. Hope abounds! The Spirit is truly there and you can see and feel what their past experiences at Silver Lake has meant to everyone.

The Silver Lake Conference Center Board, chaired by Ron Brown, has done a tremendous job this year in handling many tasks during the transition. Board Members designed a Soundings Listening process conducted in eight locales throughout the state to gain valuable feedback on Silver Lake in general and the characteristics needed in a new director. The results were passed on to the board, Silver Lake director, and the team searching for the new direc- tor.

Summer has arrived, the Staff and Conferees are here and the sun is shining! The Deans and parents are commenting on how wonderful the spirit is and how happy everyone is, in spite of all the rain. Almost 1,100 conferees are registered, with more coming in every day. There are 39 Conferences on- site at Silver Lake with two off-site conferences. Chris Mereschuk, Summer Director and Matt Peters, Assistant Summer Director are shepherding a very capable and experienced staff that loves Silver Lake. Many started as conferees and keep coming back. One mother told me today that her daughter is more herself at Silver Lake than any other place.

Staff was asked during the pre-camp training, why do you come here to Silver Lake:

“ It’s home. The Spirit. Friends. Peace. Acceptance. Give something back. Love. Fun. Spiritual needs. Memories. Learn. Kids. Consistency. Traditions. Support. Silver Lake is the rock in my life. I get through the year, knowing I am going back, soon.”

It has been an honor and a joy to be a part of the Silver Lake family. Thank you all for this opportuni-

ty. Silver Lake is a very special place. Hope, Spirit and Love abound here.


Everywhere I looked around the state capital this year I saw UCC mem- bers, speaking out on any number of justice issues. There were Sue De Simone, Van Parker, and Bob Lane testifying in front of the Judiciary committee on behalf of equal rights for same sex couples. Fidie Lane spoke on behalf of the CT Alliance for Public Education (of which we are members and she is chairwoman) against private school vouchers. Sarah Verasco headed up the cler- gy press conference on domestic partnership, and as you looked down the line of supporters there were many UCC clergy, including Dick Sherlock, Dennis Moon and David Taylor.

On one afternoon coming down from the Senate gallery I spied none other than Leigh McCaffrey complete with collar on, speaking to legislators about her work in housing with the Housatonic Valley project. On a particularly cold February day, I looked out from the Legislative Office Building to a rather large procession that had stopped and was lis- tening to a speaker who was our very own Davida Foy Crabtree, protesting the war in Iraq. These are just a few of the many examples of dedicated UCC members who see advocacy on behalf of social jus- tice issues as part of their faith.

Coming to the rescue as the regular session of the 2003 wound down was Gordon Bates. An amend- ment passed in the Senate, under the guise of “homeland security,” that would have severely restricted the ability of legal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Within a few hours, Gordon put together a powerful statement against this amend- ment and several heads of state religious denomina- tions signed on to the letter, which was then sent to legislators. The bill then died in the house as oppo- sition grew.

These are just a few of the many examples of dedi- cated UCC members who see advocacy on behalf of social justice issues as part of their faith.

I am fortunate to work on justice issues every day on behalf of the people that make up the Connecticut Conference. This past year has seen no end to the state’s fiscal crisis. One of the biggest budget casual- ties was the loss of health insurance for HUSKY (Healthcare for UninSured Kids and Youth) par- ents. No longer are people who earn above the fed- eral poverty level, but less than $20,000 a year, eligi- ble to receive health benefits from the state. This means 23,000 working families will no longer have health insurance, which will severely limit or elimi- nate their access to quality health care .

There continues to be a struggle between policy- makers who want to be sure that vital state services stay in place and those legislators who won’t abide any tax increases, no matter the devastation caused by severe budget cuts. As I have witnessed through- out the last decade and certainly this past winter, UCC folk will be in the thick of things whether by phone, e-mail, letter or in person.

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melinda keck-hon-

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At the end of June, a group of eight people from the First Congregational Church of Kent, CT embarked on a trip to Teupasenti, Honduras. Teupasenti is in southeast Honduras, near the Nicaraguan border. During the power struggles in Nicaragua, Teupasenti was used as a training base for the Contras.

We “discovered” Teupasenti through some church members who had recently relocated in Kent after retirement and became involved in the life of our church. They had an active part in the beginning of the Children’s Rescue Mission in Teupasenti through their relationship with its founder, Miguel Giron, of Norwalk, CT.

Miguel grew up in Teupasenti, and his family still lives there. As a child in school, one of his teachers saw great potential in him and encouraged him to continue his education in the capital city. Miguel graduated from school and came to the United States. Following Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Miguel returned “home” determined to help his communi- ty. That was the start of CRM.

The village of Teupasenti is a village surrounded by beautiful mountains. The people of Teupasenti are kind and the children have the hope of any other child. We felt so blessed to visit Honduras, but, at the same time, our hearts were breaking. The fami- lies have very little. Most young children run around with no shoes and ripped clothing and empty stom- achs. Many of the houses are one or two rooms, with dirt floors and windows with no screens. All the roads are dirt, and when it rains, many of them wash out.

Some of our group knew Spanish, and many times acted as our interpreters. We all learned the basics – “hola” – hello, “buenos dias” – good day, and “Que es tu nombre?” – What is your name? Smiles and hugs are the universal language and we met the risen Christ while walking the dirt roads of Teupasenti.

Mostly, we observed – observed the tiny villages out- side Teupasenti and the feeding programs spon- sored by the Children’s Rescue Mission. We visited the farm we helped to start and “met” the cows and the chickens we helped to purchase. We observed the classes at the mission – sewing, music, comput- ers and hairdressing. One of our group even got a haircut!

comed the “gringos” into their community. (For many of the children in the outlying villages, we were the first Caucasian people they had ever seen.) We helped plant cane that will come up from year to year. We held hands with children and gave them the gifts we brought from the U.S.

Each one of us had our “moments” that will stay with us for a lifetime. Those “moments” included comforting a young mother with a very sick child; talking with a teacher who walks one and a half hours each way to teach 60 school children in a mountain village; buying clothing and shoes for a lit- tle girl who wore only rags; and serving meals to children whose only meal comes from CRM.

The trip to Teupasenti changed lives. We are differ- ent people. Meeting the people of Teupasenti built cultural bridges between them and us. We learned about them, and hope they learned about us, too. We shared our languages and our cultures, our food and our clothing. We shared hopes and dreams – for a world where no child goes to bed hungry and every child has adequate housing and medical atten- tion, and shoes for their feet.

We observed the trust of the people as they wel-


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