Covenant of Light: Praying For and With Each Other

This resource is a gift from the Rev. Kelly Colwell, an authorized minister in the NCNC who created the original Prayer Cycle as part of her Member in Discernment process in advance of ordination. It has been updated by Conference staff to reflect changes since the original resource was published. We continue to be grateful for her spiritual leadership and the ongoing legacy of her nurturing a common prayer life for our Conference inspired by our covenant.

In the UCC, we are a denomination of sacred promises.

Rather than laws, rules, or strings, we are bound to each other by the covenant we make with each other. More than a collection of local churches, richer and more creative than a structure, stronger than a ministerial, we bind ourselves as local churches into Associations, Conferences, Regions, and even a Denomination through covenants. Covenants are the shape of our relationships to each other, and while we maintain nearly total autonomy for local churches to act, we also call on each other to respect the actions of all other settings of the church. Our 1959 Statement of Faith names the ultimate source of all our covenants:

“You bestow upon us your holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races…”

We proclaim that God has bound us in covenant with each other at every level of our denomination. We proclaim that God has given us to each other for mutual benefit, as we have written in our statement of covenant. God has brought us together to support each other, to challenge each other, to appreciate each other, to help each other, to share our dreams and visions with each other. Our faithful God is continually calling us to be in closer and more faithful relationships with each other across the Conference.

In these relationships, we can truly rejoice in each other’s blessings and weep for each other’s sorrows. We can raise money for each other when tragedy strikes, invite each other to share events and experiences, offer each other resources, teach each other our best practices. We can bear witness to each other about what God is doing in our own midst. Sometimes we can bear witness to what we see God doing in our neighbor’s context, helping each other recognize the presence of the Holy One. We can be rightly proud and grateful for our rich relationships within our Conference. We are in covenant with each other, and we are bound to live up to the promises we have made to each other.

One of the promises we have made is to pray for each other.

Prayer Cycle

The Christian Church has a long tradition of using markers of time and calendars to help faithful people remember to hold each other in prayer. At their heart, prayer cycles function like the Lectionary, giving us a schedule of what to pray for on which day so we remember and so our prayer life is rich and varied. The World Council of Churches maintains a prayer cycle of countries in the world, inviting Christians around the world to lift up prayers for our siblings in faith all over the world. The prayer cycle is called In God’s Hands. The schedule is maintained on the WCC’s website, where you can find a lot more information about that resource and about the WCC. Many denominations have prayer cycles that assist in this purpose more narrowly. The Anglican Communion has a global prayer cycle. The Disciples of Christ have a Conference-wide prayer cycle in several of their conferences. Some Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians have local prayer cycles that help build community. The United Church of Canada keeps a prayer cycle for each Conference so that congregations may pray for each other. Unofficially, many UCC congregations observe a similar rhythm of prayer by praying through and observing various days, weeks, and months that celebrate or honor various topics. Many congregations pray specifically for Black History Month, Indigenous People’s Day, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Earth Day, and many other occasions. You may already be observing an unofficial prayer cycle in the life of your congregation.
This webpage contains a prayer cycle for our Conference. It is also included in the weekly e-newsletter. Each of the Conference’s congregations is listed in this schedule, as well as congregations in care of the Conference, other ministry settings, ecumenical connections and partners, and a few other common prayer interests. The schedule is written so that each congregation will have two or three other congregations praying for them each Sunday of the year, and each congregation has a list of three congregations or ministries to pray for each Sunday.
There are a few options for how to engage with this prayer cycle:
  • At the very simplest, you might simply name the settings in prayer during yourSunday worship service, perhaps during the Prayers of the People or PastoralPrayer.
  • You might also simply choose to list the prayer cycle in your bulletin, asking yourcongregation to lift those settings up in prayer.
  • An additional option would be to build in a regular section of your worship service:the lighting of a candle or the singing of a simple refrain, saying “We are in community with Elm United Church of Christ in Daly City and Hudson Memorial Church in Fresno this morning as we worship, and we lift them up to God.
  • You might project the names and pictures of the congregation during the announcements, naming them as our prayer partners for this week.
A next level of engagement might be to check out the websites of the churches listed, looking for a ministry priority to lift up in prayer for each congregation. You might learn the names of the Pastor, Moderator, or Council Chair, and pray for them by name. If your community uses projection during worship, you might put a photo of each church up during the time of congregational prayer, or a photo representing something about the congregation. If your community has specific ministry priorities, you might pray for those as they relate to the congregations: “We pray for the congregations of Sycamore Congregational UCC in El Cerrito and Orinda Community UCC, particularly the children, youth, and young people in those communities. We ask God to help those communities be attentive to their youngest members and the young people who may come through their doors in the future.” The schedule also lists a mailing address for each congregation in the prayer cycle; congregations may enjoy sending a card to the congregations they’ve prayed for each week. A simple “We are grateful to be in covenant with you! We lifted you up in prayer on Sunday 9/18!” does a lot to knit us together as a Conference. Congregation members may enjoy signing a card; children in your congregation might like to send a drawing! You might also reach out to them on social media if your congregation has an active presence on any social media platforms. For congregations that desire a deeper level of engagement, pastors or lay leaders might even reach out in the week prior to ask the congregations you are praying for whether they have prayer concerns that you can share. You might hear about a construction project, a significant loss, a transition, or a ministry focus that you can lift up in prayer. This can be a powerful way to build awareness and connection between congregations. Not all congregations have listed a website or email address, so it may not be possible for everyone. Every congregation will engage with the prayer cycle differently; you should use this prayer cycle in a way that suits your worship style and practices. We have covenanted to pray for each other, but we have not committed to doing that in any particular style or using any particular method! This structure is offered as a resource to help us remember to pray for each other, an aid to our faithfulness as we strive to live out our covenant with each other.

2020-2021 Prayer Cycle

Week BeginningChurch 1Church 2Church/Other Ministry
Oct. 4, 2020EL CERRITO Sycamore Congregational UCCORINDA Community UCCStudents, faculty, and staff at Pacific School of Religion
Oct. 11, 2020CLOVERDALE United Church of Cloverdale UCCSAN FRANCISCO First Congregational UCCStudents, faculty, and staff across the Graduate Theological Union
Oct. 18, 2020OAKLAND City of Refuge Community UCCGUERNEVILLE Community UCCStudents and chaplains at UCC and ecumenical campus ministries in our Conference: San Francisco State, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Santa Cruz
Oct. 25, 2020ALAMEDA First Congregational UCCRENO First Congregational UCCUCC chaplains in hospitals and hospice settings
Nov. 1, 2020SACRAMENTO Parkside Community UCCELK GROVE Elk Grove Congregational UCCUCC Chaplains in prisons and jails
Nov. 8, 2020REDWOOD CITY First Congregational UCCFRESNO Community UCCUCC Military chaplains
Nov. 15, 2020ALTURAS Federated Community UCCSANTA ROSA First Samoan/Wellspring UCCParticipants and ministers at the San Francisco Night Ministry and other ministries to poor and unhoused people
Nov. 22, 2020WOODSIDE Village UCCRIPON First Congregational ChurchAll Members in Discernment and those considering authorized ministry
Nov. 29, 2020FRESNO First Congregational UCCSANTA CRUZ Peace UCCAll retired authorized ministers
Dec. 6, 2020SAN RAFAEL First Congregational UCCMILL VALLEY Community Church of Mill Valley UCCAll those in our conference who minister with children and young people
Dec. 13, 2020OLYMPIC VALLEY Squaw Valley Chapel UCCSUNNYVALE Congregational Community UCCThe Northern California and Nevada Conference ministers, staff, and committee members
Dec. 20, 2020BERKELEY, Grace North ChurchOROVILLE First Congregational UCCMembers of our Conference who serve on boards and committees of the wider UCC
Dec. 27, 2020SANTA ROSA First Congregational UCCCLOVIS United Japanese Christian Church UCC UMCLeadership in the Bay Association
Jan. 3, 2021PALO ALTO First Congregational UCCHAYWARD Eden UCCLeadership in the Golden Gate Association
Jan. 10, 2021MARINA, Penina Ole OlaOAKLAND, Faith Community UCCLeadership in the Santa Clara Association
Jan. 17, 2021SACRAMENTO Pioneer Congregational UCCSUNNYVALE Filipino-American UCCLeadership in the Sacramento Valley Association
Jan. 24, 2021DALY CITY First Cong. Christian Samoan CCCAS UCCSEBASTOPOL Community UCCLeadership in the Sequoia Association
Jan. 31, 2021MODESTO College Ave. Congregational UCCSEASIDE, Malamalama Fou UCCThe ministry of Camp Cazadero
Feb. 7, 2021ANGELS CAMP Union Congregational UCCSAN FRANCISCO Chinese Congregational UCCThe ministry of Camp Tamarack
Feb. 14, 2021PESCADERO Community UCCFAIRFAX Community UCCOur full communion partners in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Northern California Nevada Region
Feb. 21, 2021SAN CARLOS, Kalavaria Reformed CCCSA UCCMURPHYS First Congregational UCCOur full communion partners in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Sierra Pacific Synod
Feb. 28, 2021FREMONT United Church of Christ FremontSAN MATEO Congregational UCCOur full communion partners in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Presbyteries of Nevada, Redwoods, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Jose, and Stockton
Mar. 7, 2021NORTH FORK Grace Community UCCOAKLAND Skyline Community UCCOur full communion partners in the Reformed Church in America, Central California Classis, City Classis
Mar. 14, 2021BERKELEY Chinese Community UCCPETALUMA United Church of ChristOur full communion partners in the United Church of Canada
Mar. 21, 2021SAN MATEO College Heights UCCHAYWARD, Satauro O Le Ola UCCOur full communion partners (kirchengemeinschaft) in the Union of Evangelical Churches, Germany (UEK)
Mar. 28, 2021MARINA, Ola Fou – New Life ChurchOAKLAND First Congregational UCCOur ecumenical partners in the United Methodist Church, California-Nevada Conference
Apr. 4, 2021PITTSBURG Community PCUSA UCCLOS ALTOS Foothills Congregational UCCOur ecumenical partners in the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa
Apr. 11, 2021SAN FRANCISCO St John’s UCCBERKELEY First Congregational UCCOur ecumenical partners in the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa
Apr. 18, 2021LOS GATOS Skyland Community UCCSAN FRANCISCO Light of Life/First Samoan Congregational UCCOur ecumenical partners in the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico (IEUPR)
Apr. 25, 2021SAN JOSE Cong'l Church of Almaden Valley UCCSAN CARLOS Community UCCOur ecumenical partners in the Alliance of Baptists
May 2, 2021AUBURN First Congregational UCCFOSTER CITY Island United Church UCCOur ecumenical partners in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
May 9, 2021SAN JOSE New Community of Faith ABC UCCHAYWARD United Church of Hayward UCCOur ecumenical relationships in the World Council of Churches
May 16, 2021CLARKSBURG Community UCCSAN FRANCISCO Pilgrim Community UCCOur ecumenical relationships in the World Communion of Reformed Churches
May 23, 2021LEMOORE La'au Ole Ola Cong’l. Christian CCCS UCCSAN JOSE Urban SanctuaryOur ecumenical relationships within the National Council of Churches in the United States
May 30, 2021CEDARVILLE Surprise Valley Community UCCSAN JOSE, Epenesa Fou CCCAS UCCOur local ecumenical relationships
Jun. 6, 2021SAN JOSE Cosmopolitan Evangelical UCCLOOMIS Loomis Basin Congregational UCCStaff and leaders in our National Setting
Jun. 13, 2021SONOMA First Congregational UCCTULARE First Congregational UCCConference Inclusion Task Force (CITF)
Jun. 20, 2021LA SELVA BEACH Community UCCOAKLAND Plymouth UCCCommittee on Ministry, Section A (Initial Authorization for Ministry)
Jun. 27, 2021DANVILLE Congregational UCCSTOCKTON First Congregational UCCCommittee on Ministry, Section B (Support & Oversight of Ministers)
Jul. 4, 2021PITTSBURG First Congregational UCC of AntiochSUISUN CITY Suisun-FairfieldCommittee on Ministry, Section C (New & Emerging Churches)
Jul. 11, 2021KENSINGTON Arlington Community UCCFREMONT Niles Discovery Church DOC UCCCommittee on Ministry, Section D (Covenant Support with Churches)
Jul. 18, 2021SUNOL Little Brown Church of SunolDALY CITY, Samoan Cong'l Church of Jesus ChristCommittee on Ministry, Section E (Accountability for Ministerial Ethics)
Jul. 25, 2021SACRAMENTO, Christian Cathedral UCC (in care)OAKLAND Bayview Samoan CCCAS UCCNCNC Justice & Witness Ministries
Aug. 1, 2021OAKLAND, Latino Ministry New Church Start (in exploration)SAN BRUNO St John’s UCCLODI United Congregational Christian DOC UCC
Aug. 8, 2021TIBURON Community Cong. UCCCAMPBELL Congregational Church of Campbell UCCSAN BRUNO First Filipino-American UCC
Aug. 15, 2021SAN JOSE First Congregational UCCEL SOBRANTE The Good Table UCCPLEASANT HILL Hillcrest Congregational UCC
Aug. 22, 2021CARMEL, Community Church of the Monterey PeninsulaWEAVERVILLE, Trinity Congregational UCCFREMONT Filipino-American UCC
Aug. 29, 2021SACRAMENTO Sierra Vista Community Church UCC PCUSASOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Faafouina Cong'l ChurchWOODLAND St John’s UCC
Sept. 5, 2021PORTOLA VALLEY Ladera Community UCCBENICIA Community Congregational UCCOAKLAND/ALAMEDA First Samoan Cong.
Sept. 12, 2021KENWOOD Community UCCEUREKA First Congregational UCCBELMONT Congregational Church of Belmont UCC
Sept. 19, 2021MARTINEZ First Congregational UCCELK GROVE, Marshallese Ministry UCC (in care)REDDING Pilgrim Congregational UCC
Sept. 26, 2021SAN LORENZO San Lorenzo Community UCCSAN JOSE Tafatolu CCCAS UCCIn gratitude, we pray that our covenant be upheld and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.