Florence Congregational Church
Thursday, February 20, 2020
A Place to Connect

Pastor Irv’s Corner - August 2014


Keeping up in the chaos of life remains a daily task these crazy summer months.  July is certainly no exception.  Returning home from an interesting, informative and inspiring National Association meeting of Congregational Christian Churches from all around the globe, I prepared for a second even greater time of inspiration.  On the sixth of July, Brenda and I headed out ahead of two coach buses full of youth aged 5th – 12th grade to travel to Singing Hills Conference and Retreat Center located in Plainfield, NH.  In addition to the 78 campers, 12 college-aged youth and 8 adult staff prepared to guide and teach Christ message of Good News.  Here are some notes from both journeys:

National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC)

This was a huge year for change.  The NA leadership presented a proposal to complete the strategic plan of making the association solvent, which has been on the table for several years.  Unfortunately, part of the drive to complete this transition comes out of many years of deficit spending.  However favorable delegate votes this year moved the proposal forward with only a few dissenting.  In addition to the board and committee changes, a proposal to shift from a two executive leadership model to one was moved for consideration and voting.  Following lengthy debate, delegates voted to make the shift from an Executive Secretary and Associate Executive Secretary to a single Executive Director who will operate out of the Center for Congregational Leadership at Olivet College.  The NA will continue to operate a business office in Oak Creek, WI.

If you are asking, “What is the NA?” you are not alone.  It is easy for me to ramble on about it as I have been part of the NA since the early 80’s.  Think of it this way: the NA exists to serve the local autonomous Congregational Churches all across the country.  We like to believe we are the direct descendants of the Mayflower pilgrims who landed on the shores of Plymouth to establish the Plimoth Colony in 1621.  The NA itself was founded in 1954 at Fort Shelby by a few deeply concerned Congregationalists who found disfavor with the movement of Congregational churches towards and reformed evangelical theology of the time.  Simply, 95% of the Congregational churches in the early 1950’s voted to form an association that would later become the United Church of Christ.  The UCC is well known today for its liberal position on social justice issues as mandated by the national conference.  We, members of the NA hold to the absolute autonomy of the local church recognizing only the headship of Christ as the authority of the church.  No hierarchy of national, regional and local conference ministers exists in the NA.  (I teach about this in the new member classes held here at FCC.)  And, each NA church is free to make its stand on social issues within its own communities according to the work of the Holy Spirit within its mix. 

The Fellowship of Northeast Congregational Christian Churches (FNCCC)

The FNCCC is the regional association of Congregational Churches which include Congregational churches of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey.  The theology and polity positions of this fellowship parallel that of the NA.  Florence Congregational is an active member of FNCCC, and has received generous financial support over the last seven years.  The FNCCC Youth Summer Camp held at Singing Hills Conference and Retreat Center was a huge success.  Working with the theme, “Deeper,” the staff attempted to engage the young people with scripture, music, preaching and Bible study.  All staff efforts were focused on helping the young people look deeper into their faith.  The theme song, “Oceans” by Hillsong United was well received.  Look at the lyrics.  What do you see, feel, think?

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand


And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine


Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine


Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior


I will call upon Your name

Keep my eyes above the waves

My soul will rest in Your embrace

I am Yours and You are mine

Many of the young people definitely grew in their relationship to Christ.  Timid at first, many held back their thoughts and emotions until finally sensing the safety net of the staff.  Many shared stories of home life that was painful for the staff to hear.  Both staff and camper would cry at times during the week.  Emotions ran wild.  Love was unconditional and offered healing and comfort to hurting souls.  Camp is the place many of these young souls find nourishment.  I thank you for the opportunity to participate in this extremely important ministry of the fellowship.  Please know the seeds of Christ’s love are very gently planted and nourished. 

I have observed the fruit that is growing.  It is truly a wonder and blessing..


In Christ, Pi

Florence Congregational Church • 130 Pine Street, Florence, Massachusetts 01062 • 413.584.1325


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