Massachusetts Conference Minister and President Jim Antal sent the following email to churches, Associations, clergy and lay leaders on Monday, May 13:
From: Jim Antal, Conference Minister & President
[please note that beneath my letter is a greeting from our new staff member]
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Even as we anticipate Pentecost, I write with joyful news.
On Saturday, May 11, 2013, the Conference Board of Directors voted to affirm the appointment of the Rev. Kelly Gallagher to serve as full time Acting Regional Associate Conference Minister in the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ.
Many of you already know Kelly. She has served several churches in the west, has served on Committee on Ministry, and has been a leader in the Conference serving as Conference Vice Moderator and Moderator. Kelly will begin this ministry in late July or August 1, 2013, allowing her to overlap with Peter Wells for several days.
What she will do:
Kelly will serve as Regional ACM in both the Central and Hampshire Associations, and will serve as staff to the Justice and Witness Ministry Council.
The process that led to this call:
In late March, Peter Wells announced his plans to retire. Along with his announcement, I sent a message to the Conference assuring everyone that the Board and I are committed to maintaining the current level of staffing. In early April, the Board voted to follow the same process we used in 2007. Phase 1: the Board authorized me to recruit and present to the Board a candidate whose title would be Acting ACM to serve for no longer than 18 months, and that this person could be a candidate for the settled person. Phase 2: the Board will initiate a search.
My conversations with MACUCC leaders and staff as well as leaders in other Conferences resulted in identifying a total of fifteen (15) possible candidates. Of these fifteen, I spoke directly with six to gauge their interest and take an initial measure of their capability. I ended up conducting a formal interview of two of these six.
The Rev. Kelly Gallagher distinguished herself as the candidate of choice. Her range of experience – serving in churches of all sizes, serving on a Committee on Ministry, serving as a Boundary Awareness Trainer, and serving on the Conference Board as Vice Moderator and Moderator – speaks to her exceptional qualifications. In all these settings, she has shown her ability to help others go deeper, to reconcile apparent conflict, to get to the heart of something important, and to do all of that with both compassion and humor.
Here are a few excerpts from Kelly’s references:
- Awesome person. Would be really good in role of ACM. Above and beyond call of duty for hard work; Totally reliable. Collaborative; self-starter; self-directed; loyal. Persistently attempts to expand the impact of the church. No real deficits at all.
- Greatly respected; great preacher; inspiring person.
- I have never had a UCC colleague in the ministry that I have admired, respected and trusted more for her faith, integrity and commitment to Christian ministry and the ministry of the United Church of Christ than Kelly Gallagher.... The thought of Kelly as our Associate Conference Minister here in [one Association of] Western Massachusetts is very, very exciting. She has ministered at the largest of our large Churches in the west ... and one of the most challenging of our small churches... some of our most progressive congregations... and some of our more conservative congregations... She knows how to minister to them all!
More about the search process for a settled position:
The Board of Directors has authorized its Chair to appoint a Search Committee of five members, and I will serve on the committee ex officio. I expect the Search Committee to begin its process in September 2013. The search will be an open process, and will be guided by the Board’s Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity policy. This position is only open to ordained persons.
I invite you to find a way to welcome Kelly as our new Mass. Conference UCC Acting Regional ACM and offer her your partnership as we continue this journey together. Her greeting to the Conference immediately follows.
Jim Antal ,
Minister and President
Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
From: Kelly Gallagher
I am honored and filled with joy to accept the position of Acting Regional ACM for the Massachusetts Conference. It is beyond exciting to think about working with our local churches and with the amazing staff of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ as together we seek to make God's love and justice real.
Over the past 11 years it has been my privilege and great fortune to work with Peter Wells as a colleague in various settings. I am humbled at the prospect of stepping into his shoes, and know that there is no replacing his tireless presence and his incredible sense of humor. I simply hope to maintain and grow the legacy he has planted, to water the roots of relationship and nurture the flowers he has helped bring to life. I could have had no better model for this work than the Rev. Dr. Peter Wells - I have seen first-hand the transformation he has brought. I look forward to working with him as much as I can before he retires.
I also feel in good hands with the rest of our amazing staff at the Conference. Truly, again, I am humbled at the great privilege of working with such wonderful people. And above all I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the beautiful mix of churches within the Hampshire and Central Associations. I cannot wait to learn of all the ways that God is still speaking, all the new things that are emerging, and the love that is manifested in these communities of faith.
Finally, I am overjoyed to staff the Justice and Witness Council. This work is deep in my spirit, and I am thankful for the ability to work with the committee and the Conference on issues of justice and peace.
Thank you to Jim Antal and to the Board of Directors for their trust and faith in me. May our journey together in the coming months be blessed.