Equipping, connecting, and celebrating the churches of the Michigan Conference

Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ
No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey – you are welcome here.

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Welcome to the Michigan Conference

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Michigan Conference, where, when you’ve seen one church, you’ve seen one church.  We have churches by cherry orchards, rust belts, tourist towns of fudge shops and food deserts without grocery stores, vacation mansions alongside a serious shortage of affordable housing, and pure recreational lakes down the road from cities whose drinking water is dirty. From city apartments, farmhouses, lake cottages, vacation mansions and, we make our spiritual homes together in 135 churches that include all the rich contrasts of our beautiful state.

Since becoming Conference Minister in 2022, you can see from my speaking schedule that I have spent most weekends visiting them. I can testify that no matter the size or setting, you will find a fascinating and faithful spiritual home here, whether you are looking for a place to worship or a place to preach. We can have the oldest congregation in a small town and be the first in that same town to welcome the queer community. We have new church starts without the burden of a building, meeting online or in coffee shops. We have historic churches whose stained glass windows, woodwork and masonry are a blessing of art and transcendence to their communities. We have congregations that are unapologetically black and congregations that have Alpine festivals. 

In large cities, rural villages, sprawling suburbs and fertile forests, our churches bear witness to the God who is still speaking, who desires justice and who welcomes all, no matter what, no matter who, no matter where you are on life’s journey. In the Michigan Conference, our Christian tradition may be two thousand years old but our thinking is not. If that sounds like you, come join us. 

Peace and Blessings, 

The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel

Introducing Our Associate Conference Minister of Church Vitality and Transitions

Relying on the Holy Spirit, the Michigan Conference began the search for a full-time Associate Conference Minister of Church Vitality and Transition in July. We are excited to share that Rev. Lawrence T. Richardson will join our Conference Staff starting January 1, 2024.

“Our national search effort drew so many strong applications for this position, I was grateful to have the input and insights of our Search Advisory Team, as we discerned which way to go. In the end, we felt that Pastor Lawrence Richardson would bring specific skills we were looking for to compliment our excellent team in these challenging times for the institutional church. As an experienced coach for new church pastors, who has started and grown his own, Lawrence’s extensive training in church growth and vitality, his technological savvy, experience with the national UCC, and his training in development all stood out. But first and foremost, he is a pastor, who has a heart for pastoring and a deep love for the church. As we sorted through impressive profiles from across the country, we came to see that the person God was calling had already moved to Michigan two years ago!”

~ Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel, Conference Minister


by Lillian Daniel Michigan Conference Minister

I recall when I started in ministry, my mentors were fond of saying “There is no such thing as part time ministry.” They assumed most pastors would and should work full time in one church back in the ancient days when phones were still attached to walls and had not yet learned how to be cameras.

How things have changed. As a pastor, and now as a Conference Minister, I see the shift to part time ministry speeding up. As churches get smaller, so do resources. Part time ministry is nothing new, but I know it feels new to the churches and clergy that are moving into it.

In the worst cases, clergy hours are cut but church expectations remain the same. The “dispensable hours” never seem to fall on Sundays when pastors are still expected to show up to preach in an ever-shortening work week that assumes a serious sermon will still sprout straight from the head of Zeus or, God help us, from an A.I. chat bot. Obviously that is not the ideal and we can do better.

This is why I am so excited to bring the nation’s leading expert on part time ministry to the Michigan Conference for a special event on September 30.


  • Copy of the Book and lunch are included with in-person registration
  • FREE for Part Time clergy
  • online participation also available
  • recording available for 30 days for all registered participants to share with their local churches
  • $25 for 3 or more attendees from your local church – Bring a TEAM of your lay leaders!!

REGISTER NOW for September 30 from 10:00am – 2:00pm

Per the Michigan Conference UCC Bylaws – the Draft Agenda, Financial Report and any Resolutions, must be emailed and accessible to delegates 30 days prior to Annual Meeting.


Saturday October 28, 2023

9:00am – 3:00pm

Plymouth UCC

4010 Kalamazoo Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI  49508

We are so excited to join together for our 2023 Annual Meeting in-person!

Looking forward to seeing you as we come together for worship with Conference Minister Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel, fellowship over fantastic food, and our keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg, who will be sharing her insights on how vitality is linked to the life of our congregations.

Exciting Opportunities to Serve on the Board of Directors

The Michigan Conference Board of Directors (BOD) is seeking to fill four open positions.

The key role of Treasurer to serve as the CFO of the Conference is open.  The new Treasurer should have significant previous experience serving a church or non-profit in a financial role.  Additional experience and credentialing as a financial professional would be valuable.

There are two positions open for At Large representation on the Board of Directors.  At Large reps must hold local UCC church membership in the Michigan Conference.  There is also an opening for a Liaison role that requires holding local church membership in the Grand West Association.

The BOD is committed to inclusion and charged with a balance of representation across a diverse intersection of demographics.  Lay persons are strongly encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in learning more about being considered for nomination for one of these positions please contact Rev. Liz Larrivee, Nominating Committee Chair, Vice President BOD at lizlarrivee@gmail.com.

If selected by the Nominating Committee, your name will be presented for a vote at the October 28 Annual Meeting to join the Board of Directors.

Thank you for your generous consideration of ministry service to the wider church in a BOD leadership position! We’d love to have you as part of the team!!

June 29, 2023

Greetings beloved colleagues,

I am writing to announce that our Annual Meeting of the Michigan Conference United Church of Christ will be held on Saturday, October 28the 2023 at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It will be a perfect venue for us to connect in person and celebrate the covenant that makes us stronger together.

A block of rooms will be available at the Drury Inn nearby. If you are planning on arriving Friday and staying over at the Drury, a casual mixer will be held there Friday evening. It will be an enjoyable way to reconnect with other colleagues before the meeting.

We’re confident that this year’s Annual Meeting will be inspiring to you, especially as we continue to emerge from the tiring and often lingering effects of Covid. Many of us are still trying to gain our bearings as to where God is leading us in these challenging times of change.

To assist us in refining our direction, our keynote speaker Claire Bamberg will be sharing her insights on how vitality is linked to the life of our congregations. Claire is an ordained minister, licensed mental health professional, certified mediator, professional certified coach, a systems and developmental theory expert, and an engaging speaker.  READ MORE

I hope you will join us!
In God’s enlivening love,

Rev. Dr. Diane Baker

Moderator, Michigan Conference UCC

Senior Pastor, Bethel UCC, Waterford

When it comes to church giving, I love financial transparency and I assume you do too. If you don’t, feel free to skip this monthly missive, but not before reading the next sentence. If I haven’t said it to you in person at your church yet, let me say it here in writing:

Thank you for your church’s financial support of “Our Church’s Wider Mission,” and in particular, for what we call your “Basic Support,” which funds our work in the Michigan Conference, as well as the National Setting.

Those Basic Support OCWM dollars function for us in the same way that pledges do in a congregation or any other organization. They fund our ministry to recruit the best pastors (in the midst of a historic clergy shortage), to nurture people with a call to ministry (through scholarships and vocational encouragement amidst the hardest religious landscape I can remember), to care for the pastors we already have (many of whom are preaching at more than one church, or working other demanding jobs), and to support our amazing volunteer lay leaders with practical programs that address the specific questions I hear you asking when I visit your churches.

It is your Basic Support that allows our staff to do all they do; whether it is a scheduled Sunday visit from me as your Conference Minister, or a late night call to an Associate Conference Minister who jumps in her car to provide care and a last minute sermon to a church whose pastor has passed away. This past year, I was honored to revive the Michigan Conference practice of making clergy Emergency Assistance grants for medical expenses and other crises, and also to tend to the creative spirits of our pastors with a three-day Preaching Retreat this past May.  READ MORE

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