Beginning in May and continuing until June 8th, the Conference leaders held five one-hours webinars in which they discussed the reasons the three boards unanimously brought forth this proposal, the timeline behind it, and the vision they have for a "new thing" forming in and around the three Conferences.
"We have been on a journey," said Vard Johnson, member of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Conference. "We have been on a journey for quite a long time."
In January, the boards of the three Conferences voted to move forward with a proposal to explore the formation of a new conference by the southern New England conferences. The board drafted a resolution that will be presented for discussion and vote at the Tri-Conference Annual Meeting on June 16-17 at the Hartford Convention Center.
The delegates will vote "on whether or not to negotiate what this new conference is going to look like," explains Rev. George Peters, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Rhode Island Conference.
In a 23-minute video release June 13th showing excepts from the five forums, the three conference ministers and several members of the three boards explained the development of this proposal and what they envision for the future of the 625 churches involved. Participants in the discussion asked some important questions which are answered by the various hosts of each forum.
"These forums gave delegates a chance to hear directly from Conference leaders and ask them questions prior to voting, which we hope broadened understanding of the proposal," said Tiffany Vail, Associate Conference Minister for Communications for the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Conferences, who facilitated all five webinars. "The technology also gave people a taste of how we can connect with one another regardless of physical distance, which will be increasingly important if this proposal goes forward."
One participant offered his thoughts on the value of these forums and the chance to hear from the Conference Ministers and board members. "We've read a lot of material, and there is nothing as effective as seeing the three or four of you sharing your insights and helping us understand even more about how you will work together."