Are We Changing or Transforming?

Are We Changing or Transforming?

Photo by Angela Menke Ballou. Used with permission
Change and transformation are two words frequently used interchangeably, often leading to confusion and sometimes, disappointment.
What is change? Change is an alteration, modification, remodeling or a variation. When water is subjected to temperatures below 32° F it freezes into ice. Raise the temperature a few degrees and it changes back to water.
What is transformation? Transformation is a metamorphosis. When a caterpillar spins a cocoon and hibernates, it transforms into a butterfly. Unlike the ice that can change back into water, it can never return to the cocoon and become a caterpillar.
So, are the Southern New England conferences - Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island - changing or transforming? Will this newly formed conference simply become a replication of the historical CTUCC, MACUCC and RICUCC? Is that what is really needed as we move into the living future of the Church of Jesus Christ? Will doing “more of the same” things, working harder at them, bring vitality to our ministries? After all the intention and hard work that has gone into this new conference, will we simply be the CT, MA and RI conferences with a new name?
Or, is this bold new endeavor we have embarked upon the cocoon, nurturing and breathing life and vitality into something innovative, energizing and Spirit filling that is forever transformed?   
Just as our historic conferences are transforming, we as well are called to transform. We stand on the shoulders of all the good that brought us to this place in time. By learning and working together, sharing the mission and ministry of Jesus, living the values of the soon-to-be Southern New England Conference, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people throughout this region:

We understand the local church exists to make disciples of Jesus and we welcome all people unconditionally to share in this calling.
We commit to making God’s love and justice real by loving our neighbors, children, and all of creation through our collective work, such as seeking racial, economic, environmental, and LGBTQ justice.
We believe God calls us to bring new life as agents of change and so we embrace and encourage adaptive and transformative leadership wherever the Body of Christ is gathered.
We encourage local congregations and varied ministry settings, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, to form covenant partnerships with all who work for the common good in their local communities and throughout the world.

This is both a challenging and inspiring vision that takes dedication and commitment to fulfill.
We are blessed to be part of a conference rich in resources that are available to each of you and your ministry settings. Consider the programs listed in this newsletter and on the website. If you are not currently part of a Community of Practice or Excellence Group, contact us and we will connect you with one. If you have questions about any of the programs we would love to speak with you.
This year we received a significant grant: the Lilly Endowment Thriving in Ministry initiative. Our grant, Together We Thrive, is a collaboration of the Southern New England conferences the New England Synod ELCA, Lutheran, and the Western Diocese of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts. Through this grant, clergy colleagues are being trained as coaches who will be available to walk with you and your churches as we live into the future. Tending the Fire, the family systems program we have offered for the past eight years, has funding allowing us to continue the program at a discounted cost. The Rev. Heather Ramsey Mabrouk joined our staff as Program Coordinator for these initiatives.
Transformation takes work, it takes letting go of the familiar. On one hand it feels uncomfortable, and yet it is exhilarating. Two thousand years ago twelve people left the familiarity of their lives to follow a young rabbi and they transformed the world. Imagine what will happen when we work together, continuing to share the mission and ministry of Jesus in Southern New England.


Ellie Richardson

Ellie is responsible for the Pastoral Excellence Program and for clergy and lay leadership training. Administrative Assistant for Lay Leadership Development is Ms. Cindy Bolton, 508-875-5233, ext 237, Administrator for Clergy ...

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