New Conference Minister Requests Prayers, Prayer Shawls

New Conference Minister Requests Prayers, Prayer Shawls

In his first week serving as the first Executive Conference Minister of the Southern New England Conference, the Rev. Darrell Goodwin released a video asking people of the Conference to pray for him and for the staff, and he asked that churches send prayer shawls to the Conference offices.

"The first thing I need from you is to be a prayer partner with me," he said. "I need you to pray for all of the staff who are returning, pray for our staff who are transitioning out of their roles, pray for those who won't be here right away in January, but they're on their way in February. Pray."

Later,  he added:

"An invitation that I want to ask you to do for me right away is to walk alongside me. Walk alongside me at the beginning. I'm gonna do some things that I hope I will knock out of the park. There will be other things that you may not have wanted to happen in a particular way. I'm gonna make mistakes. I'm gonna do some things that I might reflect on and say, 'oh, I wish I had moved forward differently.' But with you praying for me, with you trusting God for and with me, and with you partnering and making the Southern New England Conference exactly what God has called it forth to be, I think we're going to be all right."

"A more tangible thing, in the midst of this pandemic, is I want to ask for a favor. Many of your churches have had sewing ministries, or you've had folks who knit. So I want to ask you to send to our Conference offices either in Framingham or here in Hartford, prayer shawls," he said.

Rev. Goodwin said he'd like to have prayer shawls, knitted and prayed over by people in SNEUCC congregations, for every Conference staff member.

"I want to be covered and surrounded in prayer. I want our staff covered and surrounded in prayer. And I want that prayer to be coming from each and every one of your congregations," he said.

Then, he said, he'd like to have a prayer shawl to give to every one who is installed as a pastor or called to do ministry in the Conference. If there are more prayer shawls after that, he said, he'd like to share them with covenant partners, with ecumenical partners, with community partners.

"When we think about doing ministry, what if in every one of our towns, the mayor had a prayer shawl, the chief of police had a prayer shawl, the director of health and human services had a prayer shawl, the governor of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts had a prayer shawl that came from the Southern New England Conference churches, that we would be a physical presence in the lives of those with whom we want to connect?" he asked.

Go to instructions for mailing and/or dropping off shawls at the end of this article

Clergy Collar and Title

Also in his video, Rev. Goodwin said he wanted to explain why he wears a clerical collar, which is unusual for United Church of Christ clergy.

"I wear the collar really as a testament of activism, specifically because there are still some folks in our community who do not believe that because of the liberal and progressive theological construct which I have, or because of the skin I'm in, or because of who I choose to love, that somehow I don't have a right to be a reverend or a minister," he said. "And so I wear the collar to yet again reaffirm that there are people who look like me, people who are in my embodiment, people who God has created as me, as an open LGBT human being, that I truly also have the right to be called of God to do Christian ministry."

"Also, you'll notice that most folks will refer to me as Reverend Goodwin," he said. "It is my preference, not because I don't like Darrell, but two things. One, because again, often, folks who look like me, who are in my embodiment, are often discounted with the work that they've done in graduate school or a doctoral program by not using the honorific that's appropriate for the role."

"And, so again, it is not to create distance, but it is to honor. It is to honor myself. It's to honor the tradition of my ancestors, and the hard work that they have deliberated to get me to this point. So I would prefer to be called Reverend Goodwin, and you will see me often in this collar. And I hope that, again, the more people who see and meet a Reverend Darrell Goodwin, an African-American, openly LGBT human being, that they will also begin to change and shape their understanding of who can be called, and who God is choosing to do ministry in this world," he said.


Prayer Shawl Delivery Options

Shawls may be mailed to the Conference offices - 125 Sherman St., Hartford, CT, 06105 or 1 Badger Road, Framingham, MA 01702.

They can also be dropped off at any of the Conference properties as follows::

Edwards House, 1 Badger Road, Framingham, MA: 
Please contact Kate Ostertag to share your plans to drop prayer shawls in Framingham. A tub labeled Thank You for your Shawl Donation is located at the circle entry way of the building. If more information is needed or you have difficulty finding Edwards House, please call Kate at 508-810-4564.

Hartford Office, 125 Sherman St., Hartford, CT:
Please contact Hillary Sage to arrange a time for drop off.  (The office is currently closed, but arrangements can be made for drop off times.) 
For Irons Homestead, 688 Snake Hill Rd., Gloucester, RI:
Please contact Nathalie Smith to share your plans to drop shawls at Irons Homestead. A container labeled Thank You for your Shawl Donation is located on the Pavilion located just prior to the Lodge building – property signs will direct you. If more information is needed, or you have difficulty finding Irons Homestead, please call Nathalie at 202-423-7407.
For Silver Lake Conference Center, 233 Low Road, Sharon, CT:
Shawls may be brought to the Health and Welcome Center, the large log cabin building on the right as you drive down the hill into camp. There is a tan outdoor box on the front deck with a sign for shawls. Shawls may be placed in the smaller bin inside the large outdoor bin. For questions, contact Ruth Choate, 860-364-5526.


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Tiffany Vail

Tiffany Vail is the Director of Media & Communications for the Southern New England Conference.

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