Townsley to Leave Conference Staff

Townsley to Leave Conference Staff

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The Rev. Suzi Townsley, Associate Conference Minister for Innovation, has announced plans to leave the Conference staff for a call at a local church in Maine.

 "The opportunity to take the learnings of my years of study and experience in innovation, leadership and change to the context of a local congregation began as a wonderment and ends in pure excitement," Townsley said in a letter to colleagues. "I want to do more than suggest to others how change happens and how space for innovation might be created, I want to be part of making it happen in the lives of church members, friends and the community.  Perhaps I will discover new insights into change leadership and what makes it challenging."

Townsley re-joined the Connecticut Conference staff in 2017 working on Innovation and Change; prior to that - from 2003 to 2009 - she served as a regional minister in Connecticut. She has served on numerous teams and committees over the years, helped to organize General Association, served as a General Synod Committee chair, taught classes at Yale Divinity School and Hartford Seminary and deaned at the Silver Lake Conference Center for 10 years.
 
"It is a little of a surprise to me that this will end my tenure with the Southern New England Conference and the Connecticut Conference, which have been the home of my ministry for some 20 years," she said. "I am not just a little sad at this departing. I have taken great pride in bringing a job description with “innovation” in its title to the Connecticut and the Southern New England Conference—even to the UCC where this word is rare."

Bridge Conference Ministers Don Remick and Marilyn Kendrix said they received Townsley's announcement with "both grief and gratitude."

"We grieve this loss from hearts that are grateful for the ministry that Suzi has brought to us.  Her research, training and approach to innovation have found a home at the very core of our values and vision.   She has led pastors and churches with playfulness and intentionally towards expanded horizons of possibilities.  She has been a thought partner with many of us in the shaping of strategies to help our churches and our conference.  So our grief is blended with gratitude for who she is and what she has done," Remick said.

"She will be a blessing to this new ministry.  And we trust that her gifts will continue to bring life to churches beyond even the one she will be serving.  We know that those gifts will continue to shape who we are becoming," he said.

Townsley will continue on the Conference staff until Oct. 2.

She said she is looking forward to serving the South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport, Maine in such a time of transition for churches.

"Knowingly, I undertake this new thing ministry even in the midst of ministry being reshaped by Covid," she said. "It's a juicy challenge.  I look forward to finding new partners who hear the call to extend the body of Christ generation to generation, to be flexible and generous, to live the love and justice of Jesus."



 

Author

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Tiffany Vail

Tiffany Vail is the Associate Conference Minister for Communications for the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. 

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