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Our History


In 1980, at Geneva Point, during the Annual Meeting of the New England Women’s Presidents, a committee was formed for the purpose of establishing a UCC Regional Women’s Event in New England.  Carol Seaman from CT, Barbara Bowman from MA, Laura Bailey and Rosalyn Baston from ME, Elinor Burroughs from NH or VT, and Sally Bradley from RI served on that exploratory committee.  These women gathered with several others in MA to brainstorm and develop the concept of NEW ENGLAND WOMEN’S CELEBRATIONS.


The purpose was to reach the women in the pews, to involve them in learning about and sharing their Faith beyond the local church and the Conference setting.
Mid-March, mid-Lent was chosen as the time for Celebrations because of the historical reference to Mothering Sunday, which was a time when the strict observances of Lent were relaxed for a day so church folks could return to their Mother Church or their roots. The purpose of the celebrations was to reach the women in the pews, to involve them in learning about and sharing their Faith beyond the local church and the Conference setting.  These Founding Mothers had a dream and incredible Faith.  They were drawn to Lydia, the weaver of purple cloth.  From there it was decided that the gathering would have a special color, purple, and many of the traditions that were used at subsequent Celebrations come from the early researching and deliberations of these representatives from each of our six (6) states.  WEAVING THE FABRIC OF OUR FAITH was the first theme.

They had no funds, so each state put up some seed money to get them started.  They had no idea how many women would come, but nearly 1100 showed up.  They had money left over, hence the tradition of sending off the excess to a good cause.  At the first Celebration in 1982, many women volunteered to do all sorts of work that none of them ever imagined they could do before.  Rosalyn Baston from ME was coordinator and she traveled to all the New England Conferences to publicize that first event.  Rosalyn was the mother of volunteers!

In 1986, registration remained at $25 making the weekend away very affordable for most women.  MOVED BY FAITH—WHERE DO WE GROW FROM HERE was the theme and the color was green! The Steering Committee’s hopes for these early events were for OPENNESS, ACCEPTANCE, SEEKING TRANSFORMATION, and SERVICE.

For Celebration III, other sites beyond Portland ME were investigated, with the findings that more central facilities were too costly and didn’t afford the luxury of having a Hospitality Room filled with our own food from each state.  WELLSPRINGS OF WOMENLIVING, LOVING, LAUGHING, blue for the color, and registration raised to $40 marked this event’s history. The Chaplaincy Program was started at this time, job descriptions were explored, and an Honorarium Policy was developed.

WOMEN ABLAZE WITH THE SPIRIT with red, orange, and yellow colors framed 1994’s event.  Morning Watch and Evening Prayer were initiated during this period.  The Steering Committee felt strongly that certain policies had evolved over the years of planning four regional events and they began to write them down, not to hinder growth, but to encourage progress without the need to reinvent the wheel for each event.

In 1998, we were into GIFTS OF THE BREAD and the color was gold for the wheat and bread.  Once again a team of very talented volunteers worked extremely hard to produce a wonderful event with 1200 women attending.  The offering that year went to UCC World Hunger and was a whopping $6,700.

That brings us to Celebration VI in March of 2002 when the event was moved to Burlington VT.  For many of us, it was no farther than Portland, even though it seemed farther.  It was no colder, even though we thought it would be.  Our theme was VINE OF LIFEBRANCHES OF THE SPIRIT and for the first time we had no special color. Women missed that.

Celebration VII, CELEBRATE MICAH’S CALLto do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God… was held in Burlington VT from March 1719, 2006.  Rev. Rona Kinsley led our worship, Diane Spires led us in song with more than 900 participating in this event, including four members from the Collegium of the United Church of Christ from Cleveland.

The Steering Committee members have changed over the years, but each new group of volunteers tries to respect the work of those who have shaped this every-four-year event since the early 1980s, maintaining a high standard and the aim of involving the women in the pews in a different, exciting experienceone of learning, fellowship, and praise, in the name of our Creator and the risen Christ!