The passing of time is measured differently by each of us. Being born in 1950 some years stuck in my head as being especially important. As a four-year-old, the year 2000 seemed far distant and perhaps even worrisome. What would it mean to be 50? Now, 2020 seems to find its way into my thinking. What does it mean to be 70? What does it mean to have only known the United Church of Christ as my home base in any conscious way since all the churches I grew up in were part of the “yes” to the formation of the UCC in ’57.
For myself, as the new year has come, I am far more cognizant of the passing of those who helped shape me, this Conference, other Conferences, and the UCC at large. Now-a-days I am much more attuned to the precious memories of persons who shaped my life that are no longer here in body but certainly in spirit.
Last month you heard of Dave Long-Higgins father’s passing (see this link) whose life will be celebrated this coming Saturday, the 11th. Clip had an important role in my and my wife’s ministerial career, helping us in search processes. We also learned of Jack Seville’s passing. I came to know Jack on the golf course first and came to value his insights into ministry that was informed, patient, kind, focused, and clear thinking about the complexities of any given topic even when our communications became more sporadic.
The list could go on about all those whose lives touched mine or I could enumerate all those who have been so influential in shaping the Heartland Conference. I now use every New Year to take time to give thanks for all that has been given by so many through the wonderful witnesses of their lives. I would encourage you to think on that as well. Who has blessed you on your way of faith and life?
No doubt, as Moderator, I do think about the year(s) ahead, not wistfully, but with eagerness. I am grateful for the current Board of Directors, staff of the Conference and all the Associations staffs, leadership teams and all those pushing, sometimes pulling us forward toward our future together in this Heartland Conference. This year will see some significant progress made in our visioning of who we wish to be as a conference and some of the “nuts and bolts” of organizing ourselves for the future. This work always seems slow from a distance, but up-close things are moving along and are about to move a bit faster. Dave Long-Higgins and I just completed a several page long list of items, mostly about the future, to present to the Executive Committee, to then translate into action items for the board. It is exciting to know that we are not sitting still. One of those items is to have more frequent communications come your way, know that you will be first-hand witnesses to this “new thing” that is happening.