By Tiffany Vail
Associate Conference Minister for Communications
At the Rhode Island Conference Annual Meeting April 30, United Church of Christ General Minister and President The Rev. John Dorhauer praised the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences for undertaking a discernment process to consider cooperating more fully in ministry or merging.
Dorhauer said that he knows of five other similar conversations going on within the denomination, but said this one is different.
“Unlike, without exception, every other conversation, this discernment question is not born of deep financial stress. You’re not asking yourselves ‘should we do this in order to rescue ourselves from imminent financial disaster,’” he said. “You all are doing it because it’s the right and faithful thing to do. Because we need to learn that autonomy, while a necessary ingredient of our way of being, is not the be all and end all of life in the United Church of Christ.”
“You all are modeling for the rest of the church,” he said. “Some of our healthiest conferences are modeling a vision of interdependent living that is going to help revitalize the United Church of Christ as we know it.”
Dorhauer pointed out that when the UCC was formed in 1957, and 38 conferences were created, the denomination was twice its current size.
“Every generation has to make decisions about the wise allocations of our missional resources. We have to steward those gifts wisely,” he said. “I don’t think anybody, if they were rebuilding the United Church of Christ today with our membership base, would argue that funding 38 judicatory offices, when we are half the size of the denomination when it was built, is the best allocation of those resources.”
“We don’t need 38 middle judicatories anymore, we don’t,” he said. “We are wasting missional resources by funding bureaucracies that – while important to the work of the church – shouldn’t be funded at the current level they’re funded at.”
(Watch the video of his comments below)