Board President's Report to the 2021 Annual Meeting

Board President's Report to the 2021 Annual Meeting

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Board President’s Report
SNE UCC Annual Meeting
May 2021
 
 The months since our last Annual Meeting in September 2020 have been eventful ones for our Conference and for your Board of Directors.  After many years of dreaming and visioning and listening and planning and relationship-building… after drafts and revisions, disrupted plans and unexpected challenges (see:  Covid)… after numerous search processes, difficult decisions, changes that were sometimes exciting and other times unwelcome… we are now moving forward in the new iteration of who we are becoming together.  There will be other iterations to come, surely; no one is under any illusion that we’ve got everything perfect yet!  But we are finding our footing in this new expression of Christ’s Body, and it is exciting to see the new things that are coming to pass.
 
We have welcomed with joy our new Senior Leadership Team:  our Executive Conference Minister, the Rev. Darrell Goodwin; our Executive Minister for Strategic Operations, the Rev. Dr. Audrey Price; and our Executive Minister for Policy and Finance, Ms. Dawn Hammond.  These three leaders are engaged in the work of casting vision, developing programs, building organizational culture, cultivating relationships among staff members, stewarding resources with care and faithfulness, and ensuring that our Conference has the strength and agility to recognize and respond to the needs of our churches, our communities, and our world.  We are in such good hands!
 
We have welcomed many other new staff members as well, all of whom we look forward to coming to know in the months and years to come.  We continue to appreciate the work of the many staff members who are continuing, some in similar roles and some in new ones.  And we have said farewell to others who have departed.  Some of us are grieving the ending of relationships we have cherished, even as we celebrate what will become possible with our new partners in ministry.  All of this is part of the work of this ongoing transitional time.
 
Your Board of Directors has been an active partner with our staff leadership in the work that is required to navigate this season of so much turbulence in our Conference and in our world.  We have also prioritized continuing our work to build the Board’s capacity as anti-racist leaders.  To the extent that it is in my power, I call on every setting of our United Church of Christ in Southern New England to join us in the crucial work of racial justice—to unmask, dismantle, and eradicate racism from our society at large, and also from within our beloved congregations, our families, and our own hearts.  White supremacy is a tenacious and deeply-embedded force, and it will take all of us in the work together if we are to move toward a more faithful and more just manifestation of God’s Realm.
 
One way in which we are engaging this work as a Conference is through our Faith in Our Future Together program, through which we are currently in conversation with a dozen congregations from across our region about how Conference resources can help local churches to build sustainability, vitality, and justice as we move through this pandemic season and beyond.
 
It is good, and it is also complicated, to have reached this point in our Conference’s journey.  In some ways, we have arrived—but the place where we have landed is, in fact, the start of a new stage on our age-old journey, sojourning on in the companionship of the great cloud of witnesses.  As we live into this current iteration of who we are and how we structure ourselves, we are finding our way to a greater sense of stability—but it will, I pray, be a stability that is always in motion, for we serve a Living God who is on the move, and so must we be.
 
Through all of the transition and tumult, we continue to hold fast to the four principles of our vision:
  • Forming disciples of Jesus
  • Embracing adaptive change
  • Living God’s love and justice
  • Creating covenant partnerships
 
We discerned this vision together, years ago now, with input from voices throughout our Conference and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I believe that She is yet working in our midst as we seek to follow in her way.
 
As I conclude my time as an officer of the Conference, I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me, and for the Board members and staff with whom I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate.  Our Conference is blessed by faithful leaders who have led, and will continue to lead, with open minds and faithful hearts as we find our way together into the future God has in store.  I can’t wait to see what’s next.
 
May God continue to bless and guide us all.
 
Grace and peace,

Rev. Jocelyn B. Gardner Spencer
 
President, Southern New England Conference
Senior Minister, United Church on the Green, New Haven CT
 
 

Author

jocelyngardnerspencer2.jpg
Jocelyn B. Gardner Spencer

The Rev. Jocelyn Gardner Spencer is the President of the Southern New England Conference and the Senior Minister of United Church on the Green, New Haven CT.

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