News from Annual Meeting 2007
Resources from Annual Meeting 2007
Fall Meeting Materials
Consent Agenda PDF
Proposed 2008 Budgets (PDF)
Proposed Resolution: "Seeking Support for Universal Health Care/Universal Health Care coverage in CT" PDF
Letter from the Resolutions Commitee PDF
Serving as a Delegate in the United Church of Christ PDF
Rules of Procedure PDF
Events at Annual Meeting
Authorized Ministers' Luncheon Flyer PDF
List of Ordained Ministers celebrating 50/25 years of ordination PDF
Hotel Information PDF
Registration Form PDF
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A beautiful spring day in a glorious natural setting greeted attendees at the Spring Session of the Connecticut Conference's 2007 Annual Meeting. About 400 gathered at Silver Lake Conference Center to elect Conference officers, attend workshops, hear Eco-Justice Ministries Executive Director the Rev. Peter Sawtell, and worship "Silver Lake style" to the accompaniment of drums and guitars. For a large number of those present, it was their first visit to the summer camp and conference center, which celebrated its fiftieth season hosting the Conference's outdoor ministry program this year.
Sawtell called for an expansion of ethical thought, to break down the artificial barriers that separate "human" from "nature," and to consider the welfare of other species and systems when making ethical decisions. While he encouraged research and advances to reduce the harmful affects of human society -- examples include low energy light bulbs, high-mileage automobiles, and conversion of paper communication to electronic -- he stressed that technological solutions can maintain the viewpoint that the environment is merely a set of resources to be exploited by human beings, and may fail to ask the question of our just place in the world.
Conference Minister Davida Foy Crabtree presented the 2007 Living Waters Award, celebrating exceptional lay leadership, to Elizabeth Horton Sheff, honoring her efforts to bring justice to Connecticut's most vulnerable citizens. Best known for her part in the civil action Sheff vs. O'Neill, which sought to address the inequities in Hartford's school system, she has served as Just Peace Minister for the Connecticut Conference and on the Hartford City Council. Currently, she is Director of Neighborhood Services at the Community Renewal Team, assisting individuals and families secure basic needs.
The day's worship, guided by Conference Preacher and Chaplain the Rev. Deborah Blood of Bloomfield, included the participation of several participants in Silver Lake's Khenuta summer conference, who led prayers, Scripture, and a touching reading of Douglas Wood's Old Turtle. Silver Lake and Conference staff members led the worshipers in songs commonly sung by summer conferees, and Dr. Crabtree presided at a communion service led without words. The congregation also created three "Ebenezers" (God has helped us), piling stones in celebration of God's gifts to the world.
Over 465 delegates, authorized ministers, and local church members of the Connecticut Conference came to Tolland High School for the Fall Session of the 2007 Annual Meeting, to help prepare the Conference for its next year of ministry, and to consider the question of inviting, attracting, and retaining the participation of young adults in the life of the Church. Participants heard from keynoter Hans Holznagel, the "UCC Answer Guy," a three-person panel, and Conference Minister Davida Foy Crabtree; engaged in small group conversations; attended workshops; approved a $4.3 million budget; and voted a resolution calling for Universal Health Care Coverage.
Hans Holznagel, who serves the national setting of the United Church of Christ as Associate for Leadership Gifts and has played the role of the "UCC Answer Guy" in the "Yesterday's Visionaries/Today's Voices" DVD, spoke of how he had been formed and encouraged in his faith journey, using language from the Preamble to the UCC's Constitution. As a child in Forest Grove, Oregon, Forest Grove UCC (Congregational) nurtured him as "kindred in Christ" through Christian Education and youth programs. Further, when he moved to New York to study as a religious journalist, his Conference Minister called the national offices to ask if they could use his help. They could, and it began a twenty-year career in the national offices.
Reflecting on the "creative and redemptive" work of Christ, Holznagel spoke of the UCC's efforts to speak out on moral crisis issues of the day, including the recent pastoral letter on the war in Iraq and the 1967 action burning draft cards at Arlington Street Church in Boston. He then noted that it is the responsibility of the church in each generation to make the faith its own. "But automatically expecting the forms of church that attracted and nurtured me to do the same for people half my age," he said, "makes about as much sense as expecting them to put on a 60s wig and turn in their draft cards." [Click here for the full text of Holznagel's keynote address]
In the panel, Holznagel interviewed the Rev. Kaji Spellman, Pastoral Associate at the Wellesley, MA, Congregational Church; the Rev. Quinn G. Caldwell, Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston; and Rachel Culmo, Office Services Clerk for the Connecticut Conference. The three reflected on the appeal, the barriers, and the challenges of the church for young people today. Culmo noted the transient lifestyle many young adults live, without a settled residence, which makes commitment to a local congregation difficult, and she spoke of the value of a community like Silver Lake that values reflection and debates over certainty.
The three agreed that committees and conflict held very little appeal to them, while community and work for important causes did. "I think my generation has a shorter attention span," observed Spellman, "because I have difficulty sitting through a sermon, and I'm a preacher!" They also advised that nobody should consider their opinions definitive of their generation. If you want to know what attracts young people to church, they said, you should ask the young people who are there.
With the assistance of Moderator Dr. Eileen Sypher of Chester, the delegates approved the single resolution presented to them on Saturday afternoon, "Seeking Support for Universal Health Care/Universal Health Care coverage in CT." The resolution endorses the moral principle of universal access to health care, and urges support for interfaith efforts to bring it to the citizens of Connecticut. [Text as proposed (PDF)]
The delegates also approved the Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM) Basic Support Goal for 2008 of $2,268,323, a 4.5% increase over 2007 and the first recommended increase in some years. Treasurer Martin Ewing and Budget Committee Chair Bob Giles both noted with pleasure the increase in OCWM Basic Support in 2007, with hope that it marked a turning point in contributions to the ministry of other settings of the church. Delegates also voted to send 63% of OCWM Basic funds to national and international work of the UCC, to ask a $5.00 per member contribution for each local church for conference work, the $4,340,592 budget of the Missionary Society of Connecticut, and the $547,112 budget of the Trustees of the Fund for Ministers.