“I am the church! You are the church; We are the church together
All who follow Jesus; All around the world; Yes, we're the church together”
As I travel around the conference, speak with pastors and laity, and see the life of our congregations unfold, I am so very grateful. I am grateful for pastors and congregation members who act in and on behalf of their congregations to serve in the community and the world. I am grateful for the honest exchanges of ideas, even when our theological interpretations are different and seem at odds with one another. I am grateful for our full and part time chaplains who have served so diligently through the COVID pandemic and continue to serve in these tumultuous days. I am grateful for conference board members and ministry team convenors and members and all the work they do on behalf of local congregations and the conference. I am grateful for a dedicated staff with whom I can share ideas and on whom I can depend.
I feel truly blessed to be serving among you. And there is still more work for us to do. Our discernment and vision team has been gathering to gain insights into how pastors feel the conference should move forward. We are beginning to explore the best ways for congregation members to give their input as well. It may be that Area Mission Councils may convene locations for congregation members to talk with the Discernment and Vision Team members. It may be that congregations will host opportunities to talk with the Discernment and Vision Team. Whatever the mechanism, I hope you will take time to offer your ideas, needs, and hopes for the conference. This is an opportunity for you to tell your story, describe your successes and identify your needs.
Covenant requires that all settings of the church speak with one another, listen to one another, respect one another, and seek to support and grow with one another. This is the agreement we make when we proclaim ourselves to be the United Church of Christ. Our conference vision is to be: “United in Faith … Committed to Love…Created to Serve.” Our conference mission statement is to be about: “Changing lives by equipping, empowering, and supporting those who would spread Christ’s ministry.” It is vitally important that we be in this journey of faith together.
As you know, I have served here for 5 years, longer than I have served in any ministerial or leadership position in the church. I am grateful that we have been working together for this amount of time and I look forward to continuing our work together. We are the church as we gather and talk and meet and worship and write and celebrate and mourn together. We are the church when we engage one another in our faith journeys no matter where we are, no matter where we serve, and no matter how we see our individual or collective faith unfolding. This is a gift from God, and I for one, am so grateful for it.