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Catoctin Convocation to focus on stewardship


The fifth annual Catoctin Convocation Sunday will mirror the diversity and unity of the United Church of Christ.

The conference will focus on stewardship, the role of children in church, connecting Scripture to daily life as well as environmental and health issues.

From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Western Maryland College, about 150 lay and clergy members will participate in the program, which includes 16 workshops on topics from the church's missions to its local activities.

"The Catoctin Association covers all the UCC churches in a three-state area," said Jean Bechtel, secretary of St. Mary's United Church of Christ in Silver Run.

Her church's members helped organize the convocation. "We tried to offer topics to interest everyone," she said.

The Rev. Gerald Fuss, chairman of the Catoctin stewardship committee, said the event draws participants into the spirit of the church and offers its leaders avenues to reach out to their communities.

The Westminster resident will lead a discussion on stewardship NTC and offer resources to help area congregations develop their "giving" programs.

"Stewardship is the way in which a believer responds to God with the gift of life, self and substance," he said. "It is not only dollars to the church. It is an expression of gratitude."

Mr. Fuss will focus on the biblical and religious motivations for giving and help people "look at life as a gift."

He also plans to relate his topic to ecology, he said.

"We are given stewardship of the Earth, a gift from the Creator, who allows us to use it and its resources," he said.

The Rev. John F. Dieterly, director of the Heifer Project, based at the New Windsor Service Center, will demonstrate resources management.

With slides of the project, which operates around the world, he will discuss how his organization helps the world's hungry develop food resources.

"The convocation gives me an opportunity to let people know what their contributions are doing," he said. "With their help, we provide training, support services and animals to needy farmers."

The Rev. Bernie Zerkel, a leader in the church's Spiritual Renewal Network, will turn participants' attention to their prayer lives.

"We have to be in touch with the internal resistances that impede our communication with God," he said. "I will lead us through the process, to a deeper understanding of the different ways to pray."

The Westminster minister said he will encourage adults to be less simplistic in their communications with God.

"If a 40-year-old is still praying 'Now I lay me down to sleep,' he needs to take a broader view of God," he said. "God is a spirit involved in all of life. We should explore God as a judge and a friend."

Reservations are required for the convocation. Information: 346-7977.

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