More than 500 people attended the 211th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference at the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday, where they were encouraged to re-think what church is and what church does.
“This is church,” Moderator Cynthia Maybeck told delegates as the meeting began, explaining that a Conference meeting is not the same as a town meeting or a board meeting. “We need to leave room for awareness for God’s voice among us.”
In his address, Board of Directors Chair Alan Froggatt spoke of Author Phyllis Tickle’s prediction for the next great emergence of the church, where authority will be located “in individual churches, in communities of churches and in groups of church bodies like these.”
“We are what the emerging church might look like,” he said, holding up the Annual Meeting’s integration of worship and business as an example. “The business we do is worship, and worship is about doing God’s business.”
Later, Conference Minister and President Jim Antal called on the Christian church to develop a “new vocation” working for the environment “building by building, town by town, choice by choice, car by car — and especially legislative bill by legislative bill, and vote by vote.”
And during the closing worship, Old South Church in Boston's Associate Pastor Quinn Caldwell painted a captivating picture of what his church looks like – including “an assumed prostitute, a drag queen and a Republican.”
One of the most powerful things church does, Caldwell said, is to “make us leave our houses to spend time with people we did not choose.” And putting up with each other, even when it’s uncomfortable, makes us better people, he said.
“And if you do it enough, then your best behavior might turn into your only behavior and then your only behavior might turn into who you are and then you might find out you have turned into a disciple,” he said.
Other highlights of the meeting included:
Munoz said his church has made the cabins its top priority, even though 23 churches were destroyed and 30 more need repair.
“Our priority has been the people of our church, the children of our church, the elderly of our church, the families of our church,” he said. “I am here to bless you, to thank you for your solidarity and to tell you the Lord is with us.”
Doug Showalter, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Falmouth, UCC, warned that it would be setting a double standard to calculate the size of a church one way for Fellowship Dues, and another way for determining clergy compensation.
Vernon Wright, pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Attleboro, spoke passionately in favor of the resolution, explaining his change of heart since the prior meeting. He said he initially felt that the proposal would make the job of law enforcement officials more difficult, but said after working with the proposal presenters for the past two years, he came to see that being involved in a wrongful conviction would be a much larger burden.
Volunteer Development Commission Chair Marilyn Rossier explained that commissions at that time were encouraged to recruit adjunct members, but said since then the ambigious state of those members had caused the committee and Board of Directors to revisit last year's changes and to make further revisions.
As a result, the Meeting approved a clarification to the bylaws that states that adjunct members of commissions do not have voting privileges and may not constitute more than half the total commission membership exclusive of Conference staff. The meeting also voted to allow the Volunteer Development Commission to appoint anywhere from 6 to 12 voting members to each commission.
Esther Rendon-Thompson expressed concern that there were no Hispanic people being added to Conference commissions this year; Rossier asked that all Associations nominate people to serve on commissions to widen the pool of people available.
Users of this website are invited to post comments in response to news articles and blog posts published here. In order to maintain a respectful community, we insist that comments be polite, respectful and tolerant of opposing viewpoints. We reserve the right to remove comments that are hostile, hateful or abusive to others, or that constitute personal attacks. In the interest of transparency, we highly recommend that users comment using their full names. For those who feel a need for more anonymity, however, we will allow posts using first names and last initial.