“Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!
Better together than out on our own!”
Some of you may recognize this line from the song that Ken Medema and I wrote for last year’s Annual Gathering. Recently I was with Old South Church in Kirtland for the celebration of their 200th anniversary. The historical records noted that this early church was first called “a gathering.” For me, gathering has an active quality. I shared with the congregation that “gathering” is a present tense active resistance to the power of death that delights in division and dispersion which we see so often these days.
So, as Moderator Cathy Green notes in her article, we will be coming together for our Conference Annual Gathering on September 27 and 28 at Westerville UCC. I hope you are planning to be there. Our gathering is a “yes” to God’s invitation for inspiration, encouragement, empowerment and engagement with each other and with the world. Our theme, “Caring for our Common Ground” has a bit of double meaning built into it. It is both a reminder of our call to steward the creation in a time of climate change and also an invitation to tend our shared life in the Conference by renewing old friendships and making new ones and sharing in mission together.
Moving the Vision Process Forward
Part of caring for our common ground will have to do with hearing about Conference commissions that are forming as an outgrowth of our vision planning. As another outgrowth of that planning, we will be considering and voting on a new name for the conference. That new name is Heartland Conference and grows out of this passage from Ezekiel, “I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them.” I hope you will join in celebrating a new motion of God’s spirit in our midst.
Disaster Response Ministry
Another part of caring for our common ground will have to do with hearing about the work of our Disaster Response Ministry. Several times in recent months our conference has been affected by tornados. Our Conference Disaster Response Ministry under the leadership of Rev. Dave Zerby will be on hand with the Disaster Response Trailer so that emergency clean-up kits can be brought to the meeting. The listing for disaster response kits can be found by following this link: http://cwskits.org/assemble-kits/emergency-cleanup-buckets/.
Honoring Jim Ditzler
In addition, we will be honoring long-time Conference Disaster Ministry Coordinator, Jim Ditzler. Jim was not only in on the ground floor development of our Conference Disaster Ministry but was a key leader in the establishment of the National United Church of Christ Disaster Ministry. Many thanks to Jim for his many years of service in this and many other areas in our life.
A Word of Deep Thanks to Cathy Green
Finally, I want to say word of profound thanks to Cathy Green who has served as our Conference Moderator for the past two years. As of September 1st, I completed my first year in this role as your Transitional Conference Minister. It has been a year filled with preaching and relationship building, working toward our shared vision, engaging a capital campaign and a search for a new Conference Outdoor Ministry Coordinator, reviewing and visioning about Conference finances, and celebrating the many creative ways congregations are engaging creative ministries. Cathy’s partnering leadership has been a vital source of support, counsel, and inspiration to me and to many. Again, and again, Cathy has said, “yes” to the call to serve. Because of this I have experienced many times the truth that we are better together than out on our own. Thank you, Cathy! You have been and are a blessing in our midst.