Gallagher called as Associate Conference Minister

Gallagher called as Associate Conference Minister


Massachusetts Conference Minister and President Jim Antal sent the following email to churches, Associations, clergy and lay leaders on Monday, Feb. 10:

From: Jim Antal, Conference Minister & President
[please note that beneath my letter is a greeting from our newly called Associate Conference Minister]

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On Saturday, February 8, 2014 the Conference Board of Directors concluded a thorough national search process when they voted to accept the unanimous recommendation of the ACM Search Committee to call the Rev. Kelly Gallagher to serve as full time Regional Associate Conference Minister in the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ.

Kelly is well known throughout the Mass Conference. Since August 1, 2013 she has served as the Acting ACM in the Central and Hampshire Associations, along with staffing the Justice and Witness Ministry Council. Prior to that, Kelly served as Conference Vice Moderator and Moderator, along with leading several churches and serving on the Hampshire and Hampden Associations’ Committees on Ministry. Kelly will continue her current responsibilities, and it is anticipated that she will be installed at the Conference’s Annual Meeting in Sturbridge on June 13-14, 2014.

To share this news with your congregation or others, please use this link:

The process that led to this call:

In September 2013, the Board of Directors authorized its Chair to appoint a Search Committee on which I would serve ex officio. A five member search committee was recruited, consisting of three members from the Central Association, one from the Hampshire Association and one from the Board of Directors. From Central: the Rev. Dr. Deborah Clark, pastor of Edwards Church in Framingham, the Rev. Ms. Carol Reynolds, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Millbury, and the Rev. Mr. Steven A. Small, the Senior Pastor of the First Congregational Church, UCC, in West Boylston. From Hampshire: the Rev. Mr. Michael McSherry, Minister of Edwards Church of Northampton. From the Board: Ms. Linda Mesler, a long-time member of South Church in Andover and an attorney in the technology sector.

The Committee began meeting in October 2013. We agreed that the Conference Profile would be entirely web based and that we would conduct a national search from November 1 through December 31. We drew attention to this search on our website: and listed the opening on the national UCC website under UCC Ministry Opportunities. I also drew attention to this opportunity by contacting the other 37 Conferences as well as various staff at the National Setting. We ended up receiving expressions of interest from 16 candidates from 12 states, and completed applications from 9 candidates. From this pool, the search committee identified 4 strong candidates we wanted to interview. After completing these interviews, the search committee prayerfully deliberated, attending to the many gifts which the candidates each brought. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we reached a unanimous recommendation.

Meeting Kelly:

If you have not yet had the opportunity to work with or meet the Rev. Kelly Gallagher, I hope you can do so in the near future. Her range of experience – serving in churches of all sizes, serving on a Committee on Ministry, serving as a Boundary Awareness Trainer, and serving on the Conference Board as Vice Moderator and Moderator – speaks to her exceptional qualifications. In all these settings, she has shown her ability to help others go deeper, to reconcile apparent conflict, to get to the heart of something important, and to do all of that with compassion and humor.

Here are a few excerpts from the search committee conversation and from Kelly’s references:

  • Kelly loves the local church
  • She brings vision and joy to every conversation
  • She believes in “us” – the UCC – and regards the UCC with both awe and wonder
  • Everything about her is authentic.
  • Kelly is an awesome person. She goes above and beyond call of duty for hard work; and persistently attempts to expand the impact of the church.
  • Greatly respected; great preacher; inspiring person.
  • She navigated a steep learning curve with grace, humor and apparent ease. She is tremendously valuable to all of us who are entrusted with this important work on behalf of the whole Church.
  • Kelly is clearly possessed of excellent diplomatic and teaching skills.
  • I see the mission of the Conference enacted with every meeting of our Committee on Ministry. It is clear that our mission guides Kelly's work.
  • I have never had a UCC colleague in the ministry that I have admired, respected and trusted more for her faith, integrity and commitment to Christian ministry and the ministry of the United Church of Christ, than Kelly Gallagher.... The thought of Kelly as our Associate Conference Minister here in [one Association of] Western Massachusetts is very, very exciting. She has ministered at the largest of our large Churches in the west ... and one of the most challenging of our small churches... some of our most progressive congregations... and some of our more conservative congregations... She knows how to minister to them all!

I invite you to find a way to welcome Kelly as our new Mass. Conference UCC Regional ACM and offer her your partnership as we continue this journey together. Her message for the Conference immediately follows.




It is my honor to accept the call to the settled position as the new Massachusetts Conference Regional Associate Conference Minister. For the last six months I have served as Acting ACM and have experienced the grace, hope and vitality of this Conference first hand. From the hill towns to the cities and everything in between our churches are doing amazing things. I am delighted to continue to work with the churches and pastors of the Central and Hampshire Associations “to nurture local church vitality and the covenant among our churches to make God’s love and justice real.”

Likewise, it has been incredible to work with the Justice and Witness Ministry Council of the Conference. Our Ministry Teams for Justice and Witness are doing brilliant work witnessing for the homeless and the marginalized, addressing hard conversations with compassion, and advocating for God’s love and justice in Massachusetts and beyond. I look forward to being a part of all of this as the new Joint Ministry Council structure continues to unfold.

I would like to thank Jim Antal and all my colleagues at the Conference Center for their patience and good humor as together we formed a new team. They have all been invaluable as I learned the ins and outs of this position. In addition to the joy of working with our churches is the joy of working with such an amazing team.

May God continue to bless the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ. I pray that my work in and on behalf of the Conference will be pleasing in God’s sight.

Peace and blessings,

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