Dear Friends in Christ,
I was blessed to attend the Indiana Kentucky Conference’s Annual Gathering last weekend at Frieden’s UCC in Indianapolis. The theme was “Building the Neighborhood.” We expanded on this theme through worship, workshops, front porch conversations, plenary sessions and fellowship time. I led a workshop called “Exploring Church Growth in Smaller Congregations” which was attended by 40 people. The worship services focused on what it means to build the neighborhood and be in relationship our neighbors.
In his State of the Conference address, Conference Minister Rev. Chad Abbott and Board of Directors President Jill Olinger began with the concept of “knowing your why.” We watched a video clip of comedian Michael Jr. who explored this concept. Our discussion focused on the idea that when we know why we are the church we can then walk with purpose as we follow Jesus Christ. Then Rev. Abbott discussed three challenges facing our conference. First, there is a hunger for church vitality in our conference. We need to find ways to feed this hunger. The second challenge is to fully and faithfully serve the needs of the conference with our current staff of one full-time Conference Minister, one full-time office administrator, two part-time Associate Conference Ministers and two additional part-time staff for communications and data entry. Third, many of our congregations are struggling with what it means to be part of the United Church of Christ, especially our conservation and traditional churches. How do we make everyone feel welcome at the table of the UCC. These challenges are providing hope and direction as the conference staff does ministry in and on behalf of the people and congregations in our conference. I am truly blessed to be part of our conference staff and the exciting ministry we are doing together.
Rev. Abbott also introduced the Leadership Academy of the conference which will seek to provide resources and opportunities for lay leaders and clergy around the topics of Boundary Training, Transitional Ministry Training, networking with our Members-in-Discernment, exploring faith and spiritual practices, church administration and preaching. I am excited by the development of the Leadership Academy, the best practices and resources it will allow us to share and the direction it gives our ministry together as a conference.
We also approved a new Constitution and By-laws for the conference and the financial report. In addition, the delegates filled over 300 hygiene kits for Days for Girls that will be sent to Kenya for distribution.
Thank you to Nancy Shannon for attending the Annual Gathering as our delegate.
Blessings on the journey,