A Report on the 2015 Spring Gathering of the Florida Conference UCC by Lucille Ruga

First impressions: Spectacular weather, amazing music, lovely gardens on the grounds of the historic Coral Gables Congregational Church, gracious hospitality, and learning a new word — “complexification.”

On the first weekend in May, lay and clergy representatives from about half of the Florida UCC churches met at the historic Coral Gables Congregational Church. Kim Wells and Lucille Ruga represented Lakewood UCC in worship, workshops, and conference business. A Friday evening reception at the parsonage home of the Rev. Laurie Hafner provided an opportunity for socializing in preparation for the next day.
Saturday morning’s actions included approval of the incoming Board of Directors, introductions of new pastors and conference staff, updates from the disaster response team, the plans for renovations of an existing conference property into the Conference Offices and headquarters, and approval of financial reports. After the keynote address by the Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President, UCC, which focussed on ministry in transition, participants enjoyed a barbecue lunch on the beautiful grounds, then gathered for workshops.

Lucille, at the program on the issue of hydraulic fracturing in Florida, learned how fracking has already been attempted in the Everglades area by pumping an acid solution (!) into the earth to dissolve the limestone on which our state largely rests. Fortunately, a vigilant Naples-area community successfully halted this exploration, but efforts by oil production interests are still a threat. The group agreed that our congregations will be informed, and must address our state leaders, on this latest attack on our fragile environment.

Kim went to a workshop on the arts. Participants reflected on the theme of covenant through drawing and poetry. It was very moving to hear the poems that people wrote expressing their impressions of covenant.

The business conclueded with the unanimous approval of two resolutions:
(1) to oppose the introduction of hydraulic fracturing in Florida and in support of renewable energy,
(2) to approve the formulation of a plan to consolidate the assets of the Florida Conference Endowment Funds that will be presented at the Fall 2015 conference gathering.

Conference Minister John Veritgan, who has recently come to Florida from the Indiana-Kentucky Conference, gave an address capturing his hopes and dreams for the conference before being installed in a stunning worship service that concluded the event.

To enjoy an awesome video summarizing our Spring Gathering and Installation of our new Conference Minister the Rev. John Vertigan, visit the conference website at http://www.uccfla.org

The HARVEST 2014

Each year in the fall, the Lakewood UCC family is asked to fill out a Harvest form. In this way the church receives information about the volunteering and financial giving of the congregation. The form asks for a total number of hours volunteered in the past year and the total amount of charitable giving. In addition, there is a section for listing the activities and organizations to which donations of time and/or money have been given.

The ministry of the church is not just what we do on Sundays or even what we do specifically as a church. The ministry of the church is what everyone in the church family is doing day in and day out to spread God’s love.

This year, 23 forms representing about a third of the congregation were turned in. The total financial giving represented on those forms was $124,710. The volunteer time totaled 6,146 hours.

These are the organizations, initiatives and activities that received the support of the congregation:

12 Step Programs
Academy for Senior Professionals at Eckerd College
Alfred Adler Elementary School
All Children’s Hospital
Alzheimers Association
American Association for Retired Persons
American Association of University Women
American Cancer Society
American Civil Liberties Union
American Diabetes Association
American Friends for Peace
American Heart Association
American Society of Friends
American University of Nigeria
Amherst College
Amnesty International
Bayfront Health Center
Bethel Youth Homes
Boley Manor
Book Clubs
Bread for the World
Calling the Sick, cards and letters
The Carter Center
Center for the Development of Central America
Chair of 5 committees and member of 4 more
Children’s Hunger Fund
Children International
Children’s Refugee Fund
City of Hope
Clearwater Central Catholic High School
Clearwater Zen Center
Colleges and Universities
The community
Council of Indian Nations
Dali Museum
Democratic Candidates
Democratic Party
Doctors without Borders
Eckerd College
Eden Theological Seminary
Edible Peace Patch Project
Emory University Candler School of Theology
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America World Hunger and Disaster Relief
Feed the Children
Feeding America
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Fine Hats Museum
Florida Orchestra
Foster dog
FreeFall Theater
Fresh Air Fund
Glenville Fire Department and Rescue Squad
Glenville Thrift Store
Global Greening Project
Grinnell College
Habitat for Humanity
Harvard University
Heifer Project
Help neighbors
Holocaust Memorial
Hospitals and health organizations
Human Rights Watch
Humane Society
Hunger Program
Indiana University
International Rescue Committee
Kids Club Sports Soccer
Lakewood High School
League of Women Voters
Lil Smith Foundation
Meals on Wheels
Melanoma Foundation
Menorah Manor
Mercy Corps
Metro Wellness
Metropolitan Ministries
Mother with foster children
Mountain Top Lectures
Musical Groups
National Public Radio
Nature Conservancy
Neighborhood Clean Up
Neighborly Senior Services
New Dimensions
Operation Attack
Pet Pal Animal Shelter
Pinellas County Schools
Pilgrim United Church of Christ
Planned Parenthood
The Princess Martha
Public Radio and TV
Pumpkin Patch
Red Cross
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights
Religious groups
Residential Community
Room to Read
Russian Heritage
St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg Free Clinic
St. Petersburg High School
St. Petersburg History Museum 
St. Petersburg International Folk Fair
St. Petersburg Opera
St. Petersburg Public Library
Salvation Army
Save the Children
Scholarship Committee
Scholarship Fund 
Sheriff’s Youth Ranch
Sierra Club
Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian
Southeastern Fisheries Association
Southern Poverty Law Center
Stonewall Democrats
Suncoast Hospice
Sunday School
Superkicks Karate Dojo
Tutwiler Clinic
Union Theological Seminary
United Church of Christ
United Negro College Fund
University of Illinois
University of Rochester
Veterans Administration Memorial
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Visiting the Sick
WEDU – Public television
Wellesley College
West Coast Players
Westminster Shores
Westminster Suncoast
Witness for Peace
World Hunger
WUSF Public Radio

And, of course, Lakewood United Church of Christ!

Visitation and Funeral for Pearl Turner

Condolences are extended to Tuwanda Turner and the family of Pearl Turner. Pearl Turner, niece of Artie Beane, died last week. There is visitation at the Smith Funeral Home (1534 18th Ave. S., St. Petersburg) on Tuesday Feb. 4 from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The funeral service will be Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 11:00 a.m. at Smith Funeral Home . Rev. Wells will be officiating.