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Posted by on Apr 21, 2022 | 0 comments

Hope Fund: Pentecost Resources

 

On November 13th, 2021, a special meeting of the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ enthusiastically approved the creation of a visionary initiative called the Hope Fund. At that meeting the people of the Vermont Conference also approved the creation of a fundraising team to support this effort.  Your fundraising team: Paul Sangree, Elise Foster, Kevin Goldenbogen, Elissa Johnk, Leigh McCaffrey, Andy Nagy-Benson (chair) 

On Pentecost Sunday, June 5th, 2022 (or another Sunday of your choice), we invite your church to hold a special offering to benefit the Hope Fund.  To help you with that offering, we’ve created the worship resources below to use as you want and need. 

Here are some ideas to help you raise awareness and encourage donations:

  • use this bulletin insert to provide information about the Hope Fund
  • encourage friends and members of your congregation to learn more about the Hope Fund at vtcucc.corg
  • provide envelopes for special donations to the “Hope Fund” that may be placed into your offering plates on Pentecost Sunday (or another Sunday of your choice)
  • set up a separate tab or card on your electronic giving software that clearly identifies “the Hope Fund.”  Then transfer those funds to the Vermont Conference
  • Use this link to download a printable “commitment card.”  Members and friends may take this, fill it out and mail to the Vermont Conference at the address included on the card

Thank you for your ongoing partnership in the Gospel and with the Vermont Conference, United Church of Christ!!


WORDS OF WELCOME

Welcome to worship on this Pentecost Sunday – a day when our tradition tells us the disciples, gathered in one place, were sent out by the Spirit, into a new way of being church. Not divided by anything as flimsy as walls, or skin color, or even language, they were driven from where they had been worshipping together to do a new thing, to proclaim the Gospel of new hope to a world desperate to hear it.

We take that message seriously here, as a member of the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ.  And whether you know the story already, or will hear it for the first time today, know this to be true: in it, we find yet again that God challenges us to put aside all the things we think divide us: age, race, gender or sex identities and orientations, insiders and outsiders, dreamers and doubters, our understandings of the way it has always been, even something as fundamental as language itself.  

Today, we celebrate that we are united by the Spirit of God, in the image of God, still lighting up the world with dreams of radical hope and visions of radical justice. Today, in Vermont, our UCC churches unite together in our scriptures, in our stories, and in our hope for the future of the gospel here in our state.

So in all we do this day, let us join ourselves to this new thing God is doing, starting now.

 

CALL TO WORSHIP AND INVOCATION

One:   You have said your elders will dream dreams:

All:    Make us ready to build them in our communities!

One:   You have said all your children will prophesy:

All:    Make us ready to proclaim the new thing you are doing around us!

One:   You have promised to pour out your Spirit on all flesh:

All:    Make us ready, God of wind and fire, to be transformed in the receiving of this Spirit, that all we say, and do, and pray, and give, might be manifestations of your HOPE for the Future of your gospel of love in this place. Amen!

 

TIME OF UNBURDENING

CALL TO CONFESSION:

Wind and flame are forces that can destabilize everything we know about the world. When applied to our souls, they compel us toward transformation. Let us face them bravely now, knowing that as manifestations of the Spirit, they will lead us to forgiveness, and renewal.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION:

Like the first disciples, we have hidden away our hopes for the future, and padlocked your dreams inside the walls of the status quo. We have been afraid to fail, afraid to face the new ways of being and doing that your resurrection requires, and so made ourselves prisoners of complacency. In these next moments of silence, God, open all the doors we have locked, and meet us with the forgiving power of your faith in us this day.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE:

Brothers, sisters, siblings: on Pentecost, Peter found his voice. 

Peter, the one who denied knowing Jesus when it was most important,

and the one who left him when the going got tough. 

God has used Peter to speak to us today – to tell us that there is nothing we could do that put us past God’s love, and nothing we cannot do when we experience the flames of the Spirit together.

So, friends, know that you are beloved. Forgiven. Redeemed, and set free.

Let us commit ourselves fully to this newfound hope.

 

CALL TO THE OFFERING

Like the tables of the Temple on Palm Sunday, the magnificence of the resurrection on Easter, and the sending of the Spirit on Pentecost, God is doing a new thing. Today, throughout the UCC in Vermont, we are taking a special offering for the Hope Fund for the Future – the new initiative of the Vermont Conference that we voted to undertake last year.

[Show video, or provide a brief synopsis here]:

In the next month, the Conference is seeking to raise $200,000, to be given out in grants to local churches over the next 10 years. These grants will be given to build relationships with people outside the walls of our local churches, to bring our best to the common good, and to spread the good news of the gospel here in Vermont.]

In other words, this special offering is to dedicate ourselves to that same Pentecost Spirit that came alive in that upper room 2000 years ago.

The book of Acts says that on the day of Pentecost, some stood around laughing, saying that this gift of the Spirit was a joke. They mocked the disciples, thinking it was foolish to believe that ordinary people can do extraordinary things with God.

Don’t be those people.

When you put something in that offering plate let it be your desire to be of service, and your dreams for a better world. Giving generously to the Hope Fund for the Future is one way we indicate we are ready for God’s work to begin us, so let us do so now.

 

PRAYER OF DEDICATION

God, what we dedicate this day is our passion.

What we dedicate this day is our dreaming.

Take these gifts, take us, and make us instruments of your hope for the future: of this people, this place, this gospel, and your Spirit, ever waiting to make all things new.

Amen. 

 

BENEDICTION

One:    When the world seems too much:

All:      we choose hope!

One:    When fears keep dreams imprisoned:

All:     we choose the future!

One:    When the Spirit moves:

All:     we will act!

One:    Let us go forth to proclaim the good news:

All:     God is still speaking!

One:    So let us go forth, to use our lives to answer the call.


© Rev. Elissa Johnk, 2022

Rev. Elissa Johnk began her ministry as Lead Minister at First Congregational Church UCC of Burlington in April 2019. For the previous eight years, Rev. Johnk served as the Senior Pastor at The Old Meeting House, a thriving, multi-denominational church with strongest ties to the United Church of Christ. Before her ministry with The Old Meeting House, Elissa served with Rev. Martin Copenhaver as a Pastoral Resident at the Wellesley Congregational Church UCC, and held a ministerial internship at Old South Church UCC in Boston. She has also worked with Habitat for Humanity and as a Fulbright ambassador in South Korea.

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