Our New York Brothers and Sisters
This past weekend I had the opportunity, with our delegate Jane Madden-Koch, to attend the annual meeting of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ. We are one of 252 UCC churches across New York State. Every year delegates from these churches gather for inspiration, to consider the conference budget and to elect officers to represent us. As a member of the conference board I also attend quarterly meetings to help guide the conference in its work for our churches.
As always, the best part of the meeting for me is seeing the diverse and faithful members of the many churches across our state. From the Long Island suburbs, to metro NYC, to upstate farm communities we represent the varied regions and cultures of our state. It is a fascinating picture.
This year's conference was filled with good news. First, the President and General Minister of our denomination, the Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, was the keynote speaker. He is a dynamic speaker and has a strong vision for our future.
Second, the conference finances are looking up. Three years ago the conference minister, the Rev. David Gaewski, predicted that we would spend down all of our reserves in three years without significant changes. David has led us through changes, including reduced staff, more diverse fund-raising, and, most importantly, the creation of the Reformed Association. This body allows churches in the Reformed Church of America who are seeking a more inclusive denomination to have dual-standing in the United Church of Christ. All of these have led to a much better financial standing for the conference.
There are, of course, still great concerns for the future as churches shrink and become more reliant on part-time clergy positions. Also, the rise in hate groups around the country is a threat to the UCC's inclusive stance toward a more pluralistic culture. Overall, though, our denomination remains a beacon of welcome and a voice for justice for God's creation and all God's people.
Thank you to Jane for so ably representing us (and Stephen for coming along)!
See you in church,