Editor's note: Associate Conference Minister Andy Gustafson is on sabbatical, traveling across the country. He will be visiting United Church of Christ Justice and Witness immersion centers and mission sites and the UCC General Synod and blogging about what he sees. His posts about those sites will be posted here on macucc.org. His full travel blog is here :http://travelblogs.mapquest.com/32860/changing-lives-tour.
In the midst of this is the United Church of Kanab-Fredonia, started as a joint project of the Disciples, UCC, United Methodists and Presbyterians. A few years ago they had dwindled down to 18 people. At that time they called Dean Cerny, their council chair who had substantial seminary training, to be their part time pastor. Dean is also gay and has a long time partner, who is the music person for the church. The UCC licensed Dean and the church chose to become an Open and Affirming congregation. They now have grown to 60 members and are still growing. Dean says the UCC stance on affirming all people regardless of sexual orientation has made a tremendous difference to him personally and also to the church.
This is an extremely theologically diverse church , from conservative to new age people who celebrate the summer solstice. When they say "whereever you are on life's journey" they mean it and live it. They were incredibly friendly and met a number of people with Massachusetts connections, including someone related to our own Rev. Russ Arnold.
The late Andy Gustasfon served as the Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship and Financial Development from 2004 to 2014.