Wednesday, April 28, 2010

SWC Annual Meeting Wordles

This past Sunday I preached about the Southwest Conference Annual Meeting, using the title "The Work We Do." The emphasis was placed on the word "We" in that title to lift up all of the amazing things that are happening all around us in the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Here is the thing, though, I didn't get home from the Conference Annual Meeting until late Saturday night which means I didn't write out the sermon but instead preached it manuscript free. So I don't have anything to plug into our handy-dandy wordle creating software.

So instead, I thought I would use my weekly wordle posting to share some of the images I helped the Justice and Witness Committee use for their presentation at Annual Meeting! Remember, the way the program works is that it takes whatever block of text you put in and creates a graphical rendering of it where the words that appear most often are displayed as the biggest words and the ones used less often get progressively smaller.

The Justice and Witness Committee took the written reports they received from each local congregation who hosted a Listening Session. Those sessions asked church members to answer two simple questions: 1) What are you doing for your local community? 2) What is on your heart.

I took those written reports, dropped them into our Wordle creator, and here is a small sampling of what we got! As always, you can click on the images below to see the fullsized rendering.

 Encanto Community Church

Southwest Conference Youth (from Thanksgiving Alive)

Scottsdale Congregational UCC

 Desert Heritage UCC

All Reports
 My personal favorite. I took all of the reports, lumped them together, pasted it into the Wordle interface and this is what popped out. 

I've been thinking about...

...Annual Meeting(s)

That is right, it that time again. Time for us to take a step back, look at all that we have done together over the last year to the greater glory of God, take a deep breath, and dive deep into the promises that the next year holds for us. It is Annual Meeting time!

The observant reader will notice that I snuck an 's' into that first line: Annual Meeting(s). That is because I am recently returned (I got back home late Saturday night!) from the Southwest Conference Annual Meeting being hosted at the Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona. I look forward to bringing you greetings from our brothers and sisters in UCC Congregations throughout Arizona, New Mexico, and El Paso, TX and bringing you word of the exciting things going on in the wider life of our beloved United Church of Christ.

Here at home, the Encanto Community Church will hold our congregation's Annual Meeting next Sunday immediately following worship.

It might sound silly, but this is exactly who we are as a people of faith. As a congregational church we take seriously the fact that nobody else gets to tell us what to do when it comes to running the affairs of our church -- we don't have a bishop or a presbytery or a Pope who tells us what to do. Rather, we take on the important and difficult work together and the Annual Meeting is the formal time when all members of the church rally together to take on the work that is ahead of us. So we will hear reports from our various committees, receive our budget for the coming fiscal year, and listen together for what the Spirit is saying to us. It is going to be great! And it is who we are! Please join us next Sunday for the Annual Meeting.

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Okay, so life has been crazy busy lately and I'm just now putting up the sermons from the month of April (check out the time stamp on this post, I'm running late; my apologies).

So here we go, three Wordles for the three sermons this month. You can find the full sermon manuscripts here, here, and here on the church's website.

As usual, you can see the full sized Wordle rendering by clicking on the image below.

April 18, 2010 When Love Means Feeding the Sheep

April 11, 2010 Doubt

April 4, 2010 Risen Indeed

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What I'm watching...

A special edition of "What I'm reading" this week that needed a slight title tweak. You see, these aren't articles or blog posts that I've been reading but important videos from the United Church of Christ that I've been watching...over and over again! Give 'em a click to see what I'm talking about!

The New UCC Ad
This launched on Friday as part of a viral marketing campaign by the UCC. It is unlike anything the church has ever done before, and yet it authentically represents exactly who we are and who God is calling us to be.

The Installation of the Rev. Geoffrey Black
Our new General Minister and President was formally installed this past weekend. Check out the highlight reel below that captures some of the festivies in an easy 5-minute video clip.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I've been thinking about...

The Pride Parade!

This coming Saturday you are invited to join your brothers and sisters from Open And Affirming UCC Congregations throughout the Valley of the Sun as we march together in the 13th Annual Phoenix Pride Parade.

For folks who don’t know, here is word from the Pride Parade website describing exactly what it is all about:
For 30 years Phoenix Pride has been organizing marches, rallies, parades and entertainment/educational events to celebrate the Phoenix LGBT community. For 13 years Phoenix Pride has produced the Pride Parade with over 130 entries from walking groups to some of the most spectacular floats you've ever seen. 
The Phoenix Pride Parade is the kick-off event to the two day Pride Festival designed to bring our diverse LGBT and allied communities together for a weekend of camaraderie and celebration of our past, present and future while raising funds for Phoenix Pride and its community programs. The Parade brings 2,500+ individual participants and 10,000+ spectators.

Those of us who marched last year had a terrific time, and we want to encourage more members and friends to come out and join us! We are meeting up in the parking lot of First Congregational UCC (2nd Street and McDowell; right around the corner from Encanto!). Plan on meeting up at First Congregational at 10 AM on Saturday, April 17th. Step off is at 11 AM and we’ll march together all the way to Steele Indian School Park.

Remember to bring a hat, sunglasses, and a bottle of water. I’ll bring the church banner so that we can show off Encanto Community Church as “Caring Christians Joined in Faith.” It is going to be a great day. Hope to see you there!
Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I've been thinking about...

...the Church Calendar.

Why the church calendar, you ask? Because we have SO MUCH going on in the month of April! Come join us!

Just check out all of the ways below that we are serving the Risen Christ, living the love of God, and gathering in the name of this church that we love so much!
  • Wednesday 4/7 Game Night at 6:30PM
    Everyone is invited to join the youth for dinner and boardgames in the Fellowship Hall
  • Saturday 4/10 Women’s Fellowship at 10AM
  • Sunday 4/11 Church Theater Outing to “Jesus Christ Superstar”
    We’ll meet at the church at 12:30 and carpool over to Gammage for the play
  • Saturday 4/17 Phoenix Pride Parade (Meet at First Congregational UCC Phoenix at 10AM)
    Join your brothers and sisters in other Phoenix-area UCC churches as we march together at the Pride Parade again this year
  • Sunday 4/18 Loyalty Sunday and Ice Cream Social
    Don’t forget to bring your pledge card...or to stick around for some delicious ice cream!
  • Tuesday 4/27 Men’s Club at 6:30
    Wednesday 4/28 Council/Trustees Joint Financial Meeting to Prepare the Final Budget
With so many opportunities to join us for fellowship, service, and growth in the faith, Encanto is the place to be this April!
Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I've been reading: Easter Edition

Here are some of the things I've been reading this week in preparation for Easter Sunday:

Unnatural Event by Theodore J. Wardlaw
From the "Living by the word" section of "The Christian Century" it is a fabulous reflection on the power of the Easter story to speak God's word of hope against all other storytellers who might tell you otherwise. Simply a must read.

Hope Synonyms
I couldn't get away with saying "Easter is about hope" without then having the most complete list possible of synonyms, definitions, and descriptions of "hope". If you've never played with the "visual thesaurus" before then scroll down two-thirds away through the listing and click on over.

Easter Surprise
We'll be using a version of this Children's Sermon as part of our Easter Sunday Worship Service. Except that I don't have a jack-in-the-box, so we'll be acting it out with our youngsters instead!

The Magical Revolutionary Machine
I know, I know, this has nothing to do with Easter except for the coincidence of the calendar. But the iPad was officially launched this weekend and being the tech geek that I am I couldn't help but read every last review, posting, jot and tittle about the latest gadget du jour. So here you go, the full review from my favorite tech blog. Enjoy! And if you can talk the Easter Bunny into bringing me one, even better!