By Tiffany Vail
Associate for Communication
The Conference ministers and Board chairs from the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island Conferences today issued an invitation into conversation about the partnership that has begun to build among the conferences.
"Living as we are in a time where the witness of the United Church of Christ has never been more important, and recognizing your commitment as a member and leader of the UCC in southern New England, we hope to spark your imagination," they wrote.
Following several years of cooperation and months of conversation, in September 2015 the Boards of the three southern New England conferences each voted unanimously
to initiate a “season of discernment” regarding how God may be calling them to engage in a deeper partnership, including the possibility of creating a federation or merger. The full resolution can be read here
"Fireside Chats" on the topic will be held during the two lunch periods at Super Saturday
on March 12 at Killingly High School in Killingly, CT. All three conferences are co-sponsoring the event. Other regional events are also being planned, including one for clergy and members in discernment
in the Southeast Area of the Massachusetts Conference on April 7. Churches are also encouraged to have discussion locally and at Association gatherings.
"We are partners with you in this time of discernment and we hope that these multiple conversations will help us discern where God is leading us in this time," they wrote.
Everyone is also invited to take part in a survey on the topic, linked here: https://www.research.net/r/RIMAC.
Read the full version of the letter below.
That they may all be one… - John 17:21
Even though it has many members, all the members of the body, though many, are one body. - I Corinthians 12:12
Believers know that while our values are embodied in tradition, our hopes are always located in change. - William Sloane Coffin, Jr.
February 22, 2016
To the Saints of the Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts Conferences of the UCC:
Grace and peace to you!
Living as we are in a time where the witness of the United Church of Christ has never been more important, and recognizing your commitment as a member and leader of the UCC in southern New England, we hope to spark your imagination and invite you into a conversation about the partnership we have begun to build among our three Conferences.
Following several years of cooperation and months of conversation, in September 2015 the Boards of the Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts Conferences each voted unanimously
to initiate a “season of discernment” as we listen to how God may be calling our three conferences to engage in a deeper partnership, including the possibility of creating a federation or merger. We have attached that common resolution
with this letter.
We invite you to participate in one or more of the many opportunities now being created as part of this discernment. Register for Super Saturday
(March 12, 2016) and over lunch you will hear more why this initiative is important and how it can benefit the local church. This year, Super Saturday is a joint effort of our three Conferences.
We invite you to have a conversation in your congregation. You might want to set aside a time at your Council/Executive Committee to engage in conversation. Invite your youth group into the conversation and discernment. Clergy groups might want to set one of your regular meeting and devote it to this topic. We are contacting Association leaders and encouraging communities of practice to participate in this discernment. This will also be a focus at our Conference Annual Meetings. We are partners with you in this time of discernment and we hope that these multiple conversations will help us discern where God is leading us in this time.
We also hope that every one of you – whether or not you participate in one or more of these conversations - will take a few minutes to respond to this survey we’ve created so that we have the possibility of hearing from everyone: https://www.research.net/r/RIMACT
While the survey allows for anonymity, we structured it so that we could evaluate the responses Conference by Conference.
Also attached to this letter is a copy of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Thank you for the faithful way you witness to the values and vision of the United Church of Christ. We are honored to be among the leaders of the UCC in Southern New England, and look forward to engaging with you as we discern together how God may be calling us to live into Jesus hope “that they may all be one.”
Barbara Libby, RI Conference, Interim Conference Minister
George Peters, RI Conference, Board Chair
Kent Siladi, CT Conference, Conference Minister
Mark Engstrom, CT Conference, Board Chair
Jocelyn Gardner-Spencer, CT Conference, Board Rep
Angie Menke Ballou, MA Conference, Board Chair
Jim Antal, MA Conference, Conference Minister