“I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them” – Ezekiel 11:19a
With this article it is my great honor to share that at our recent Conference Annual Gathering at Westerville Community United Church of Christ, the vote to change the name of Conference from the Ohio Conference to the Heartland Conference was approved by 93% of the delegates. For those for whom this is completely new information, this vote was the outgrowth of listening sessions over the past several years in which it became clear that we needed a name that was more inclusive of the geography that we serve: Ohio, West Virginia and Northern Kentucky.
More Than Just Geography
However, the name is about more than just geography. It has to do with the way in which we understand God’s spirit to be pulsing in our common life for the upbuilding of the common good of the communities in which we are located and the wider world. I am excited by the energy that is rising among us to envision ways to ever more robustly learn from one another and support one another across the spectrum of our life. If you are interested in seeing the video of the presentation process from the Annual Gathering, it will be available soon on our website.
Process for Fully Engaging the Heartland Conference Name
The process for fully engaging the Heartland Conference name will entail several steps as we move through the end of the year. The hope is for the name to be fully engaged by January 2020 though we will begin using it more and more prior to that. Some of the specific steps for engaging the new name will be as follows:
There will, of course, be the process of making the change legal in terms of our Articles of Incorporation. Our conference attorney had indicated that this process is not complicated, nor costly (under $100.00). The resolution formulated by our conference attorney that passed at the Annual Gathering grants authority for this to be done.
You may have noticed that word of the name change has already been shared with the national setting of the United Church of Christ through thru the online KYP (Keeping You Posted) email for the week of October 1st. However, specific changes will need to be engaged within each setting of the wider church.
In addition, we will need to engage a process of branding and logo development in a way that helps folks know what geography the Heartland Conference covers. A new website will also be in development. Our vision is to engage the associations in this process so that we can develop a more integrated way of communicating across the full spectrum of our life in ways that are clear and easily accessible.
In addition to my travels to local churches and meeting with clergy and other groups throughout our life, I am hopeful that you will share this news with those whom you know. I realize that a new name is only one piece of a process of institutional transformation. In many ways it is just a first step. Yet, I think that it is an important one so that we may have a fresh language with which to envision our life together as that begins to get expressed and lived into in a variety of ways.
Thanks for your partnership and for any suggestions you may have that would strengthen this process of sharing about our new name. I look forward to our shared discovery of how God’s love will pulse through our Heart in ever new ways! Blessings on you!