Delegates to Vote on Prison Resolution; Ashland Land Sale

Delegates to Vote on Prison Resolution; Ashland Land Sale

The 218th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference - to be held as part of the historic Tri-Conference Annual Meeting June 16 - 17 in Hartford, CT - will take up a resolution on life imprisonment without well as a potential sale of unused Conference-owned property.

Delegates are being asked to approve a resolution, entitled "Expression of Opposition to Massachusetts Sentences of Life Imprisonment Without Opportunity for Parole," sponsored by the Christ’s Community Church in Chicopee and First Congregational Church, UCC, Ashfield. 

The resolution states that hope comes to prisoners from Jesus’ reading of the Isaiah scroll, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim release to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free” (Luke 4:18). Having no opportunity for parole leaves prisoners with no hope, the resolution states. Find the full text of the resolution here

Delegates to the meeting will also be asked to authorize the Board of Directors to sell land in Ashland, at the far west end of the property where the Framingham offices, Edwards House Meeting & Retreat Center and Pilgrim Day Camp are located. The land has never been used by the camp or the Conference. Annual Meeting delegates in 2002 authorized selling the land to raise funds for the renovation of Edwards House, but the at the time there was no sewer service available and the land proved unsuitable for septic tanks, so the sale did not occur. A sewer line is now available, so the Board is in the process of seeking an appraisal of the property. Sale proceeds would be used to expand the General Endowment of the Conference.

"In a time when many local congregations are struggling financially and level-funding or reducing contributions to the wider church, new endowments generated by these sales are helping to sustain the robust shared ministry of our Conference of churches," the Board states in its introduction to the vote. "For the past ten years, the Board of Directors has been working to align all resources of the Conference with its mission: 'In order to make God’s love and justice real, we seek to nurture local church vitality and the covenant among our churches.' "

This vote, the Board states, would "take an asset which is not contributing to the mission, and convert it into an asset which would generate income for Conference ministries."

In another vote, delegates will be asked to approve a merger between The Congregational Church of South Deerfield and the Conference. The church is seeking to close by way of merger, which is simpler and less time-consuming than the process of filing for dissolution with the Office of the Attorney General.

Delegates will also be voting on the Conference budget for 2018, which anticipates income of $2.2 million plus a $75,000 transfer from operating reserves. It would continue the same sharing ratio with the national setting of the UCC. 

These votes will be taken up, along with the vote on the proposal for a new Conference, during a Massachusetts Conference plenary session in the afternoon of Saturday, June 17. Each of the three Conferences will have their own separate business sessions at that time. Hearings related to these votes will be held Friday, June 16, at 3:30 PM.

Complete details on the Massachusetts Conference business can be found at:

Details and registration for the entire meeting can be found at:


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Tiffany Vail

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

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