Associate Conference Minister Peter Wells, who has served on the MACUCC staff for 11 years, announced Friday that he will be retiring at the end of August.
Wells currently serves churches and pastors in the Central and Hampshire Associations, as well as coordinating Justice and Witness ministries for the Conference. In the past he has also served as the regional minister for the Franklin, Hampden and Berkshire Assocations.
Wells sent out the following email announcement on Friday:
"Eleven years ago I ended an 18 year long journey with the New Ark United Church of Christ. After saying farewell to that community I drove the 302 miles from Newark, Delaware to Springfield, Massachusetts to begin a new journey as an Associate Conference Minister. When I began I would have never guessed that 11 years later I would have driven the equivalent of 20 times around the earth or a trip to the moon and back.
"Time doesn’t allow a complete travel log but to paraphrase Springfield native Dr. Seuss, oh the places I have gone over those 500,000 miles. I have been to the endings and beginnings of ministries, discernment processes, ordinations, search committees forming, search committees successfully completing their calling, meetings of committees on ministry - Board of Directors - Executive Committees, successful new initiatives, new initiatives that didn’t succeed, leadership academies, boundary trainings, the Unified Fitness Review Committee, breakfasts with Synod delegates, meetings with pastors, visions of red and black banners proclaiming God is Still Speaking (new news to some), work with five associations and over 170 congregations, justice fairs, work on resolutions, supporting the work of justice task forces and so so much more.
"Now 11 years and all those miles later my time with you will be coming to a conclusion. At the end of the August I will be leaving the conference and beginning the journey of “retirement”. I put quotes around the word retirement because, along with collecting social security, I do plan to continue to be engaged in ministry. Over the next few months there will be ample time to express my thanks to many of you personally. For now I will offer a general but heartfelt word of gratitude for the countless ways you have blessed my life. Quoting the UCC Liturgy of Farewell, I thank you for “the love, kindness, and support shown me these last 11 years. I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted. As I leave, I carry with me all that I have learned here.”
In a letter accompanying Wells' announcement, Conference Minister and President Jim Antal wrote the following:
"The Massachusetts Conference has been richly blessed these past eleven years by the passion, prophetic challenge, pastoral concern, humor and so many other dimensions of Peter’s ministry! Virtually everyone in the Conference has encountered Peter because – as he is fond of saying - Peter shows up. In addition to being present for the churches and pastors of the Central and Hampshire Associations (and in his initial years Franklin, Hampden and Berkshire Associations), Peter has shown up at countless meetings, virtually every special program offering, moments of pastoral need, and times of disaster, conflict and celebration. But it’s HOW Peter shows up that makes his ministry so important and unforgettable. He is fully present, totally engaged, and often responsive in unexpected ways. We remember our times with Peter. Our time with Peter offers us a window to the Holy Spirit.
"On a personal level, I’m grateful for all the ways Peter has made me a better Conference Minister, along with the ways he has made our Conference staff rise to challenges we might otherwise miss. I will never forget the time I have been privileged to spend every other year enjoying Peter’s joint leadership of our Synod delegations (with Andy) – the energy and hilarity they bring to the challenges and serious issues that come to Synod are truly exceptional.
"How we will miss Peter! And how we extend to Peter and Joann all the happiness and fulfillment promised by retirement.
"I will be in conversation with the Conference Board of Directors between now and their May meeting. I can assure you that the Board and I are committed to maintaining the current level of staffing. Beginning April 9 I will convene the first of five Days of Covenant when I will gather with the pastors of each of our five areas – and I will listen to what our pastors have to say. Our Conference has earned a reputation as having one of the best staffs in the United Church of Christ, and we will continue to live up to that reputation going forward.
"The Massachusetts Conference has been richly blessed by Peter’s ministry. In the coming months, I’m confident that you will join me in sharing with Peter your gratitude for all the ways his ministry has strengthened and inspired your own."