By Tiffany Vail
Associate Conference Minister for Communications
BALTIMORE - In what could be seen as a sneak peek of next year's Annual Meeting, The Rev. Traci Blackmon visited a joint breakfast of the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island General Synod delegations Saturday morning,
Blackmon is acting executive minister of United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, and will be the keynote speaker at the second joint Annual Meeting of the three Conferences, being held next June in Springfield, MA.
Blackmon said the work of the Conferences has inspired the national staff to plan on deploying national staff dedicated to justice and witness ministries regionally, so they are more accessible outside of the national offices in Cleveland.
In comments that echoed her rousing sermon from the previous evening, Blackmon told the 100 southern New Englanders that they need to be ready.
"The UCC has the message that is in tandem with the gospel ," she said. "We need to be leading what’s happening denominationally in this country. We've been doing this work before anyone sounded the alarms, Now, we need to stand up. We need to work locally, regionally, with our Conferences to make sure that our people are ready to mobilize."
She said the national setting plans to put its emphasis on looking for ways to "elevate the work you are already perfecting and make it visible to the entire community."
"If we’re going to have a national voice, it’s important that it be your voice," she said. "I I don’t believe the church is dying. I hear that everywhere. The church will never die. That doesn't mean we won’t shed some skin, though."
Secondly, she said, the national setting will provide more resources for church use related to justice issues.
"I'm a pastor," she said. "It's one thing to say 'let's talk about environmental justice.' It's another to help the preacher know how to talk about it."