By Conference Minister Diane Weible
Discernment is a funny thing. We all do it. We listen for the movement of the Holy Spirit and we try to understand how and where our gifts and our talents can best be used.
Our Conference leaders are asking all of our churches to enter into a time of discernment. What do you need the Conference to be? What are the resources our churches and pastors need? How do you need your Conference staff to show up? What do we need to do as a Conference to make sure that the beliefs and teachings of the United Church of Christ is known and felt in places that need it the most? How do we honor the sacred resources that are our beloved camp properties?
We do some pretty incredible things when we come together. Throughout COVID, we have supported and cared for one another. When wildfires threaten, we reach out and ask how we can help. When our church leaders are exhausted, we look for opportunities to come together and support one another in the ways we need it the most.
Last week our Conference gathered for a discernment session. We talked about a dream for Camp Cazadero and Camp Tamarack and we considered budget options. It was clear from the conversation that all of us together have the best hope and possibility for this Conference in their hearts and in their minds. However, we move forward, I trust and believe that we will move together.
Money to Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support makes it possible for Associations to do their work; it allows Conference Ministers to visit our churches and be there to support church leaders when they need it the most; it supports the work of our Committees on Ministry that are caring for our leaders—those who are just beginning their ministry as well as those who have served for decades. There is so much more.
The thing that COVID has made so clear to me is that we need one another, and we cannot do this alone. “This” may not be clear but the understanding that we cannot do “this” alone is very clear to me.
We are asking churches to discern the importance of the work we are able to do together through contributions to Our Church’s Wider Mission and our commitment to show up for one another.
I wish I could resolve every issue that has created anxiety and stress in the lives of our churches and their leaders in this tender time. I cannot. What I can do, and what all of our Conference Leaders are committed to doing, is to walk with each church and each church leader as we figure out how to travel this road together.
I stand open and ready to support you in the ways you need it the most. I know our staff and Conference Leaders feel the same way. I offer you my prayers and my presence. And, I ask for your help as we enter this important time of discernment.