Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This post contains both an announcement from Associate Conference Minister Dale Hempen and a letter from me. Please be sure to read them both.
May 3, 2011
May 1, 1998, I began ministering with you as the Associate Conference Minister in the Southeast Area of the Massachusetts Conference. During my first days “on the job” many of us were together with Marcus Borg presenting his book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time. Borg’s reimagining and reframing our historic faith for today’s challenges, launched us into eventful days. “New occasions taught new duties,” a New Church organized and thriving in Mashpee; the Conference celebrated its 200th Anniversary in 1999 pressing on with our commitments to justice and peace, and inclusion for all; later we gathered together around “The Comma” in the Southeast Region for a grand celebration of our faith and hope in our “Still Speaking God!” General Synod in Hartford, celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the UCC were memorable days! Co-teaching UCC History, Theology and Polity was also a blessing! Scores of new clergy were ordained and are serving the Church well “in and on behalf” of the United Church of Christ. I have worked in Search and Call with sixty-eight of our seventy-four churches in the Southeast area at least once during these thirteen years. But, the most sacred and holy times were our conversations, personal or in larger gatherings, where the foundations of our faith were affirmed, and together sought to live as People of Grace and Hope in these strange and unique times.
At the end of 2011, I will retire. I am filled with gratitude to God for these years of both blessings and challenge. Thank you! The hymn that comes to mind expressing my gratitude is, “My Life flows on in endless song…how can I keep from singing?” I will honor appropriate boundaries as I seek to find what Paul Clayton has so eloquently written, “God’s Call for (the rest of my) Life!”
Of my four calls in forty plus years of ordained ministry, two local churches in the Iowa Conference, another judicatory ministry in the Ohio Conference, and concluding now in the Massachusetts Conference, all settings have challenged and provided opportunities for my growth as a person and pastor. The seventy-four local churches, the Southeast Region and the Massachusetts Conference have a multitude of gifts for a faithful future. I am grateful to my staff colleagues and prayer partners on the Conference Staff, encouraging and supporting one another trusting in God. To all of you, who helped envision the future for our Beloved United Church of Christ for the Local, Regional, Conference or National setting, press on in this important work!
God’s blessings to each of you! Thank you for welcoming me, inviting me to minister among you, sharing a joy and a grace the world cannot give and certainly the world cannot and will not take away!
Ministering through Christ’s Church,
Dale A. Hempen
Associate Conference Minister
Southeast Region, Massachusetts Conference
United Church of Christ
May 3, 2011
Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
What a blessing it has been over the past thirteen years for the Conference to have benefitted from Dale’s ministry, faithfulness, wisdom and leadership! Steady as a mountain amidst the winds of change, Dale has offered the churches and pastors of the Southeast region his deep experience, his flexibility, his insight and his humor. Along the way, he has made all these gifts available to all the churches and pastors of the Conference by coordinating our search and call efforts, assuring that churches between settled pastors are served by a skilled interim minister, and managing the Boundary Awareness Training program.
On a personal level, Dale has become for me both a treasured friend and a prized colleague. Again and again he has helped me respond more effectively to the challenges our Conference faces. Drawing upon his deep connections within the UCC, he has provided invaluable guidance. And perhaps most important, Dale’s faithfulness has inspired me to set aside fatigue and persist, to suspend judgment and open my heart, to calm down and drink up God’s blessings.
We will all miss him, and we wish Dale and Cheryl all the happiness and fulfillment promised by retirement.
The Conference Board of Directors will be taking this up at their May meeting. In anticipation of that meeting, I will be listening to your responses to the following question: What do you most need from the Conference to fulfill the Conference mission – which is to amplify the vitality of our churches so that all together we may be effective instruments of God’s love and justice? I’ll be meeting with our pastors in the Northeast at the Day of Covenant on May 9. Likewise on May 10 I’ll be meeting with our pastors in the MBA. Although I’ll be out of state on Conference business when the Old Colony Association meets on May 10 (from 2pm-4pm), I will be at First Church of Christ, UCC, Sandwich – available for anyone who wants to stop by to discuss Dale’s announcement.
The Massachusetts Conference has been richly blessed by Dale’s ministry. In the coming months, I’m confident that you will join me in sharing with Dale your gratitude for all the ways his ministry has strengthened and inspired your own.
Minister and President
Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ