Clergy and lay women from across the state gathered in Annual Meeting recently to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the CT Women of the United Church of Christ (under its various names over the years), hosted by the lovely women and men of Mystic Congregational Church.
With an Official Statement of Recognition and Congratulation from both Her Excellency Nancy Wyman, Lieutenant Governor, and a letter from our Connecticut Conference Minister, Kent Siladi, we began this day of celebration with words of welcome from Bridge Pastor James Harrison and dynamic worship under the leadership of Stacy Lee Goforth.
The morning program featured a speakers' panel on various aspects of the US prison system, its impact on women and their families, programs that foster healing and new direction for those being released, and state, national, and international efforts, not only to provide for basic needs, but to change the system in positive ways. Each of our speakers provided history and context for their point of view and had books to recommend as resources for further discussion.
Carole Fanslow commented that the panel of experts on the subject of incarceration was so relevant and interesting, while other attendees gave our panel “outstanding” ratings. We had a lovely time of fellowship over lunch sitting around tables decorated with charming “beachy” scenes, served buffet style and so delicious! Then our CTWUCC office secretary, Pam DiDio, provided some fun as numbers were drawn for celebratory “give-aways” to 14 lucky winners.
Lunch was followed by a brief business meeting wherein we approved last year’s Annual minutes, our year ending Treasurer’s Report, and passed a budget for 2018-19. Jeanne Grandy, Co-Vice President, acknowledged the fact that although no formal motion had been made, the Board, given the state of flux by the tri-conference merger conversations over the past three years and prior to this June’s vote, has been functioning in a “suspended By-laws” state, with the current Board members “holding the fort” until decisions can be made. She assured everyone that financially, we are in good shape.
Business done, we continued with our Celebration activities: cheering the presence of several of our Past Presidents, acknowledging the presence of three clergy women who have supported our work as women leaders, and honoring our Recognized Women in our parishes.
Additionally, we presented Certificates of Recognition to both Helen Danner of First Congregational Church, Litchfield, and to Barbara Leary of First Congregational Church, Willimantic. Helen is retiring after 22 years as Litchfield Church’s SERRV Coordinator, bringing her wares to us annually and staffing the store there; the hand-crafted goods when sold provide income for women and their families around the world. Barbara was recognized for her leadership and coordination of the Interfaith Sewing and Service Group in Willimantic, which celebrates its 25th year in January, 2019. This group works tirelessly to make the school bags for Church World Service School Kits, and many clothes and other items for those less fortunate. Thank you both! Finally, we celebrated and blessed one of our speakers, the Rev. Marilyn Kendrix, on being named Transitional Conference Minister for Rhode Island beginning July 1st. With her background in both business and spirituality, and her compassion and knowledge of today’s issues, she will do well. We celebrate her gifts!
For those interested in “the numbers:” about 100 people came, representing 30 churches, and contributing $1,578 toward our goal of $5,000 each for Church World Service activities for refugee children in Connecticut and A Sacred Place, a spirituality based program for incarcerated women at Niantic. This offering brings us so close to our goal of $10,000 and is still open until achieved. Donations may be made out to: CTWUCC and sent to Martha Lape, Treasurer, 20 Towpath Road, Cheshire, CT 06410.
And, if all that wasn’t enough, the Board announced the formation of a new initiative for women clergy to engage women of their communities in the network of faith-filled women: The Amy OgdenWelcher Grant. Applications will begin in the fall and must be submitted by February 2019. Read all about it in the fall 2018 Communicator, where you will also see our speaker panel’s book recommendations and contact information. That edition will also have more information about the dates and locations of our Fall Retreat and next year’s Spring Gathering for your calendar as we continue the theme: "Planting NEW Seeds of Hope.” Watch for it!