Season of Discernment

Led by the Holy Spirit, in September 2015 each of the Boards of the Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut conferences voted unanimously to adopt a resolution committing to join one another in using the 2015-2016 program year as a season of discernment to listen to how God may be calling us to either federate or merge. The fundamental question is: Is this collaborative ministry among the three Conferences of Southern New England something God wants us to do? How might it be a sign of faithfulness to God’s call?

Two Approaches to Discernment

We invite you to engage in discernment both as part of a group and as an individual:

  • GATHERINGS - In 2015-2016 various UCC gatherings (small groups at Conference gatherings or Association meetings; Communities of Practice; Church Councils or Committees; Super Saturday; Committees on Ministry; etc.) will use the resources below to engage in conversations.  Events are listed at the right.

  • SURVEY - We hope that every one – whether or not you participate in one or more of these conversations - will take a few minutes to respond to this survey at:


Collaborate logo

Even as the discernment process is ongoing, the three southern New England conferences are engaging in mission and ministry efforts together. Watch for this symbol to identity those collaborative efforts. Find out more.


Guidelines for Communal Discernment

  • Discernment begins by welcoming the presence of the Holy Spirit as your guide, and others as your companions on the journey
  • Discernment seeks to align our life’s direction and decisions with our sense and experience of God’s call
  • Discernment is intentional – it doesn’t just happen; and it requires that we be radically open to where the Holy Spirit might lead us
  • Discernment is more about generous listening than about expressing our views
  • Discernment appreciates the many ways we can hear God together
  • Discernment is grounded in prayer and scripture

Discernment resources:

  • Guidelines for Communal Discernment  (PDF: 1.3 MB)
    A group can better discern how the Spirit is leading when it engages intentionally in a process that nurtures community, is rooted in prayer and reflection on Scripture, deepens listening, weighs options, and seeks consensus.  These guidelines describe steps and tools for such a process for groups as small as a committee and as large as an assembly. Published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • The Discernment Process: 10 Movements
    A resource from the Connecticut Conference, UCC, developed from Discerning God’s Will Together, by Olsen and Morris
  • Toward a Working Definition of Discernment
    A resource from the Connecticut Conference, UCC, developed from Worshipful-Work Center for Transforming Religious Leadership



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