There are some historic changes happening in our Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ!
First, you should be aware that our Conference Minister, Rev. Jim Antal, has retired as of July 1st. Many of you may remember Rev. Antal from his two visits to our church during which he shared sermons on climate change and the importance of the United Church of Christ. Rev. Don Remick, who had served as Associate Conference Minister in our Conference, has now assumed the role of Transitional Interim Conference Minister. A formal search process for a new Conference Minister is presently on hold due to the following development!
At our Annual Conference Meeting held late last June, we were joined by both the Connecticut and Rhode Island Conferences. Together an historic vote was taken to merge our three Conferences. This process has been on-going for some time and has been called “Together as One” or simply “TA1” for short.
While there is no denying that the birth of this new Conference is a response to the need to streamline our denomination due to declining revenue and overall membership, there is also much excitement about this change.
“UCC History was made today,” said the Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president on the day of the vote. “Signaling to the wider church that we can accomplish more together than apart, that we live in an interdependent world in which we all need each other, and looking to maximize the use of precious mission resources, delegates to this tri-conference annual meeting voted to carve out a new pathway for what we hope will be new life, new vitality, and new relevance.”
And at his final Annual Meeting, Rev. Jim Antal said: “For over 200 years Protestantism in America has offered a denominated witness to Christ’s call for justice and love. Going forward we have an opportunity to come together, particularly in our current political context dominated by morally bankrupt values. What we did today was a first step. We need institutions to carry the weight of social change. They also offer symbols that can bring people together. That’s our profound hope.”
I, for one, am very hopeful that the new conference will allow our denomination more agility and amplify the UCC’s presence in social dialog. “Together as One” is a fitting title to this process as it is a truth that we live by in order to best serve Christ now and in the days ahead!