The Andover and Essex Associations have now officially been replaced by the new Northeast Association.
After years of off and on conversation, a couple of years of intentional planning and a vote last June to merge, the Andover and Essex Associations on March 19 together adopted a new constitution and bylaws, thus legally creating the Northeast Association of the Massachusetts Conference.
"Several association leaders and others from both sides came together to draft bylaws and create a vision for an association designed to serve and work alongside churches as we approach the fifth century of Congregationalism in Massachusetts," said Christopher Jenkins, who is currently serving as co-moderator of the new Association.
The new Northeast Association comprises the 46 churches and 100 clergy who had previously held standing in either the Andover or Essex Association. The Northeast Association is one of 10 in the Massachusetts Conference.
The two Associations first moved toward unification by suspending their bylaws to allow their Church and Ministry committees to act as one committee guiding ministerial candidates in discernment and addressing issues of ministerial standing.
"The Association leadership took a leap by bringing its Committees on Ministry together and it also forged a wonderful path by creating a vision for the Association," said Associate Conference Minister Wendy Vander Hart, who has been working with both Associations. "The process was a great model for visioning and governance for our local churches."
"Additionally, the leadership is to be commended for imagining new life together beyond geographical boundaries," Vander Hart said "This is not to say the history of these two Associations is not precious, but they gave attention to the new thing God is always doing."
The new Northeast Association will have its first Annual Meeting on May 16, at which time delegates will approve the first unified slate of officers and combined budget.
"The Board of Directors of the Northeast Association looks forward to spending the coming year establishing procedures and precedent for a strong association," Jenkins said.
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