Just over two years ago, I became the first shared staff person for the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences, managing communication for all three and also working with the team that has been planning the formation of a new, unified conference.
Because I’m in this unique position, I often get asked by folks in one conference what those other conferences are like.
There are, of course, differences. In Connecticut, there is great importance placed on raising up youth, and on the lasting impact of the ministry that goes on at the Silver Lake Conference Center. In Massachusetts, there is an emphasis on instilling excellence through training events like Super Saturday, and programs like the clergy communities of practice. And in Rhode Island, there is an impressive level of commitment to gathering together, evidenced when an average five or six people per church turn out for Conference-wide meetings.
We have much to learn from one another’s strengths.
What we share in common, however, is even more important than where we differ. What has struck me, time and again, in each of our three conferences is the incredible dedication and commitment of those who serve. And I don’t just mean the dedication of the staff colleagues with whom I am privileged to work – although that is impressive. I’m talking about the volunteers. Those who give their time to serve on Conference boards and committees and task teams. Those who lead workshops and mission trips for their siblings from other churches. Those who plan and carry out worship for conference meetings. And, those amazing, hard-working folks who have been meeting monthly for several years now to lay the groundwork for forming a new, unified conference.
It is inspirational that these people, lay and clergy, find the time not only to serve Christ in their own local ministry settings, but in the wider church setting as well. The presence of these saints in all three of our conferences assures me that, even though we have our differences, there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.
Tiffany Vail is the Associate Conference Minister for Communications for the CT, MA, and RI Conferences.
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