Pastor’s Message

If you or someone you know would like or is in need of a visit, please contact Pastor Gayle in the church office, via phone (773-725-0121) or email (ccjpucc5320@att.net), or via Facebook message. Leave voicemail messages with details or with a message to call back.
Please note that if you leave a message Thursday afternoon through Saturday, it will not be listened to until Sunday morning.
Also let us know if you have visited someone, so that care and visits can be coordinated. Thank you!

We often refer to ourselves, our congregation, as “CCJP.” We are, in fact, the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park (CCJP), but we are officially “CCJPUCC.” Those final three letters stand for “United Church of Christ,” the denomination of which we are a part. It is probably easy for most of the congregation to forget about our denominational connections, but we are in covenant with the denomination and with all other UCC churches.

So what does that covenant look like? For one thing, the denomination provides an overall framework for the process of becoming an ordained minister. Without the association (in our case, the Chicago Metropolitan Association), pastors aren’t ordained, licensed, or commissioned. The associations, conferences (the Illinois Conference for us), and the national setting of the UCC provide resources, support, and guidance for pastors and congregations about education, technology, pastoral care, innovation, disaster relief, service projects, youth and young adult ministries, worship and the arts, faith formation, stewardship, and a host of other topics. In short, our covenant relationships impact and contribute to every facet of our life as a congregation, even if many people don’t realize it.

In this time of pandemic, “coronatide,” as it was referred to during a webinar yesterday, I have been relying heavily on the resources of our conference and association. There are constantly-updating Google documents where all things virus related are collected, so that we don’t have to search on our own. There are webinars on self-care, and digital ministry, and “The Science of Return.” These are accessible to anyone with computer, smart phone, or tablet, and an internet connection, for free. Each week in worship, we use prayers provided for free through the denomination, and hymns from our denomination’s New Century Hymnal or psalm videos by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, also paid for through our denomination, so that they are free for congregations. The national staff of the UCC are working diligently to provide guidance and care to anyone who needs it, not only for worship, but for matters of on-going justice, like the disproportionate effect of this pandemic on the most vulnerable in our society. You may not always be aware of the working going on at the association, conference, and national settings of the church, but we rely on those who are called to that work.

Why am I telling you this? This is an invitation to engage with and support the ministries of the wider church. Pray for our leaders and their ministries; trust me, they appreciate prayers! If you are able to give financially, I encourage you to give to the Strengthen the Church special offering and the Annual Fund of the UCC. You can give online by visiting the denomination’s website, ucc.org, by phone at 1-800-846-6822, or by mail:

United Church of Christ
Financial Services
700 Prospect Ave, 6th Floor
Cleveland, OH 44115
Please write your designation on the memo of the check.
 

I also encourage you to engage with the Chicago Metropolitan Association, the Illinois Conference, and the United Church of Christ via social media. Read daily devotionals, listen to our General Minister and President’s podcast, take part in webinars, advocate for justice by contacting elected representatives about current issues. There are so many resources available to us! Use this time of physical/social distancing to make connections with the wider church, just like we have been able to connect with members and friends of the congregation around the country through worship online. Continue to find new ways to be followers of Christ and members of the church.

Blessings on your covenant explorations!

Gayle