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United Church of Christ - New York Conference
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Church Revitalization

Congregational Development

Sustaining and enhancing the spiritual health and vitality of our churches is a priority in the New York Conference. Our mission is to equip, resource, and strengthen our congregations in the New York Conference in their ministries as they evolve, move, and develop in the courses of their spiritual lives. Whether a New Church Start or a longtime congregation in need of revitalization, we offer the following programs and resources to assist our congregations in the effectiveness of their ministries now and in the future.

Group Coaching

Our MINISTRY VITALITY CLUSTERS are an opportunity for clergy and lay leaders to do transformational ministry work through a leadership summit and monthly meetings with expert coaches. We offer these clusters in partnership with The Epicenter Group, which is headed by Paul Nixon, author of I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church. Monthly meetings of clergy and quarterly gatherings of lay leaders assist church leaders in selecting, planning and achieving ministry goals for the vitality of their congregations. An important benefit of these clusters for pastors is a clergy group creating strong relationships through fellowship, mutual sharing, and accountability. The annual cost of these clusters ranges from $1,200-$1,500/year depending on the number of participating churches. Half of this cost is subsidized by the New York Conference. Pastors also receive Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) for their participation in these clusters. The 2013-14 year will begin in July 2013. For “”Frequently Asked Questions” concerning the Ministry Vitality Clusters, please click here.

Congregational Consultants and Training

We have a group of experienced ministers who can provide a short term consultation or longer term coaching to your congregation in areas such as Spiritual Formation, Discipleship, Safe Church Training, Strategic Planning, Church Revitalization, and Organizational planning, . We can connect them to you, and they can do this work with your congregation at a nominal cost. For more information please contact the Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development, Rev. Freeman Palmer.

Vitality Workshops

The Associate Conference Minister can offer several one-two hour workshops that can be offered to your leaders and/or congregation in the following areas:

  • Marks of Vital Congregations – a summary of a recent survey that describes characteristics of vital UCC congregations and implications for your church ministry
  • Mission Insite 101 – A ‘How to Demo’ of MissionInsite and its’ potential benefits for the ministry of your congregation
  • Asset Mapping - An participatory exercise which calls forth the assets in your congregation’s current ministry that might assist your future ministry
  • Let’s Have a Holy Conversation – A structured discussion with your leaders and/or congregation around identity, purpose and context
  • What’s your story? – An exercise that consists of finding a biblical story that best describes your congregation and how that story might shape your present and future ministry.
  • Appreciative Inquiry - A workshop which helps your church appreciate who you are as you continue to discern God’s future for your ministry

The above workshops are especially useful for congregations experiencing pastoral transition, and can be offered alone or combined for a day long or weekend retreat, including a sermon on Sunday. For further information, please contact the Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development, Rev. Freeman Palmer.

Pulse Checks – Vitality Measures for Congregations

Readiness 360 - Congregations meeting eligibility criteria can participate in Readiness 360, an online congregational assessment in areas of spiritual intensity, missional alignment, dynamic relationships, and cultural openness. This survey assists leaders in understanding and acting upon issues that drive vital, healthy congregations. You may find a document of “Frequently Asked Questions” by clicking here. You may also learn more about Readiness 360 by logging on to or by contacting Rev. Freeman Palmer.

Vital-O Meter - The United Church of Christ offers a brief on-line survey of vitality where respondents are able to compare their answers against other responses. To access the survey go to

Know Where You Are Through Mission Insite

For a nominal fee The New York Conference offers our congregations access to MissionInsite, which provides demographic information to help churches know the communities they serve to help discern opportunities for ministry. Go To for more information, and if your congregation is interested in accessing MissionInsite, please contact the Associate Minister for Congregational Development or the New York Conference Office.


In addition to the above, you may find a number of helpful resources for your congregation through the following links:

  • The United Church of Christ offers resources to boost the vitality of your congregation in worship, mission, discipleship, generosity, and other areas – Go to
  • The Center for Progressive Renewal is a national organization which works with the United Church of Christ and several denominations and offers courses, webinars, coaching, and publications to develop leaders and congregations, and provides particular education and coaching to new church planters and pastors – Go to
  • The Alban Institute has been a leader since 1974 in providing education, books, publications and consulting services for clergy and congregations - Go to
  • The Parish Resource Center has three locations in New York (on Long Island) and offers workshops, webinars, consultants, and resources to subscribing congregations at low cost - Go to
  • The Center for Congregational Health offers coaching, consultation in areas as Strategic Planning, Conflict Reconciliation, Team Building, and decision making and governance restructuring - Go to
  • The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center offers several workshops geared to congregational health and spiritual growth - Go to


For information about any of the above, please contact Rev. Freeman L. Palmer, Associate Minister for Congregational Development, at 201-388-6447, or

While the New York Conference seeks to share information about a variety of church revitalization opportunities, program information or a link to any website does not imply endorsement by the New York Conference.

5575 Thompson Rd. • DeWitt, NY 13214 • 315-446-3073 • Fax: 315-446-3076 •