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Posted by on Nov 15, 2022 | 0 comments

Hope Fund: Epiphany Resources 2023

Promoting the HOPE Fund During Epiphany 2023

As the HOPE Fund committee winds down our fundraising efforts and hands the baton to the HOPE Fund Discernment Team to award grants, we are asking congregations who have not yet contributed to the HOPE Fund to be part of this historic effort in the Vermont Conference. It would be so exciting to have 100% of our congregations participate in some way as we prepare for 2023, and the projects that the HOPE fund will support!  Perhaps you have a traditional year-end fundraiser, or usually designate a part of your Christmas offering to a cause. Perhaps one of your mission funds has an unspent balance. Perhaps you have a donor who is looking for a project outside your local church for an end of year donation. In this season of expectation, please consider including the HOPE fund of the Vermont Conference as an investment in the future of the United Church of Christ here in the Green Mountains.

Based on Scripture Passages:

  • Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
  • Ephesians 3:1-12
  • Matthew 2:1-12

Call to Worship from Isaiah 60

All        Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
One      Darkness may seem to cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and God’s glory will appear over you.

All        Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
One      Lift up your eyes and look around; we are all gathered together. Some came on their own from  far away, and others were carried here in love.

All        Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
One      Today we shall see and be radiant; our hearts shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of our God is among us.

All        Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Invocation from Psalm 72

Help us learn to be beacons of justice, O God. May our beloved mountains yield prosperity for the people, and in the hills may righteousness reign. May we defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the systems of oppression. May we be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth, so that righteousness flourishes and peace abounds.  May we be signs of hope, like stars in the sky, pointing the way to your love in Jesus Christ in whose brightness we pray. AMEN

Reflection from Ephesians 3

Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Many of the churches of our Conference are still trying to work out how they will be church after COVID-19. Some of the tried and true patterns of church life no longer seem to fit. It is easy for us to look at more “successful” churches and wonder what we are doing wrong. Clergy and lay leaders may feel like the least of all the saints as we struggle to respond. But we believe that grace will be given to us to find new ways to bring the boundless riches of Christ to others. Since we believe that God is revealed to us in the gathered church, we will find this hidden plan of the mystery by seeking God in a rich variety of projects. Every congregation that receives a HOPE Fund grant will try a different way of opening the gospel to their community, and in that process, enter the mystery of God’s work in the world.

© Rev. Leigh McCaffrey, 2022

Rev. Leigh McCaffrey was born in Burlington, Vermont and was confirmed and ordained in the First Congregational Church of Burlington.  After working as a Christian educator at the Groton Congregational Church in Connecticut, she received a call to ministry that led her to Andover Newton Theological School in Boston, Massachusetts, where she graduated cum laude with a specialization in Liberation Theology. She was the 1988 winner of the Koinonia Preaching Prize.  Rev. Leigh has served on many Conference committees for Church, Ministry, and new church development. She worked as a staff organizer with the Naugatuck Valley Project in Waterbury, Connecticut, and MESA Coordinator (ministerial credentialing and training) with the Florida Conference. She also worked remotely as the clerk of the New York Conference School of Ministry. Most recently, she has been a patient care secretary at VITAS hospice and pastor of First Congregational Church of Lake Helen, Florida.  She is currently pastor at Barre Congregational Church in Barre, VT.

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