“Good afternoon Tri-Conference!”
When Jocelyn Gardner Spencer spoke those words from the podium in Springfield this past June I physically felt the wave of change pass over me. It was like those moments in life that everyone tells you are going to change your life, but there is no way of understanding them until you get to the other side – marriage, birth of a child, death of a parent. There is an existential shift in one’s way of being – commitment, accountability, covenant has happened.
As the staff for Justice and Witness in the Massachusetts Conference, I of course have pondered these last few years how might the Tri-Conference work together to manifest the justice of Jesus in such a time as this. TJ Harper and I have chatted about the future of Racial Justice in the Tri-Conference. I have encouraged our 8 Task Teams to consider this, our Justice and Witness council, and even had coffee with Kent Siladi to toss around thoughts, hopes and dreams. And yet it was all an intellectual exercise for me until now. Now is the time to get at it.
“Good afternoon Tri-Conference!”
In his final address to the Massachusetts Conference as minister and president, Jim Antal gave us a charge that now provokes us forward. Quoting Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jim said, “There has never been more reason for [humanity] to be ashamed than now. We have bartered holiness for convenience, loyalty for success, love for power, wisdom for information, tradition for fashion. Let the blasphemy of our time not become an eternal scandal. Let future generations not loathe us for having failed to preserve what prophets and saints, martyrs and scholars have created in thousands of years. God is waiting for us to redeem the world.”
Then Jim added, “Let us not keep God waiting.”
As the Supreme Court draws a line in the sand, as rights of the most marginalized hang in the balance in the highest court, as we corral and cage children at our borders and ignore poverty in our wealthy country that rivals some of the most devastated lands in the world – let us not keep God waiting, Tri-Conference.
As depression and addiction flow through the hearts of God’s children who see no hope to be had, as anger and vitriol spew from the mouths of our neighbors who don’t even know us, as the deep breach of trust and conversation grows wider - let us not keep God waiting, Tri-Conference.
There is certainly work to do. And as the wave of reality passed over me the waters parted and I could see the faces of the new covenant, smiling and cheering. We don’t all agree, and that is good. I like to say if everyone agrees than there aren’t enough people at the table! In our multi-faceted views we can create the diamond that can shine light into many places at once. Together we will tug and pull at this new garment, stretching it over a wide tent that offers rest for the weary, strength for the journey, and disciples of Jesus for the world.
“Good afternoon Tri-Conference. Let us not keep God waiting!”
Rev. Kelly Gallagher is an Associate Conference Minister for the MA Conference, UCC.
Many Voices, One Mission is a regular series highlighting the ministries of the
CT, MA, and RI Conference of the United Church of Christ.
The Rev. Kelly Gallagher is an Associate Conference Minister for the Southern New England Conference.