This past weekend, in spite of all the challenges of snow and ice, it was my privilege (as an authorized minister in the New Haven Association of the CT Conference United Church of Christ) to be present and to vote at the Ecclesiastical Council of a Member in Discernment. The candidate came before the gathered delegates and authorized ministers to share her life and faith journey as well as to answer questions about her theology to help those gathered determine whether she should be approved for Ordination to Ministry subject to a call. Sunday’s Council did in fact vote to approve this wonderful candidate for ordination to ministry in the United Church of Christ.
Here in the RI Conference UCC in just the same way, the Committee on Ministry also holds Ecclesiastical Councils for Members in Discernment as they near the close of their process of support, guidance, and discernment (usually during their seminary education).
In the RI Conference UCC we are simply one Association with one Committee on Ministry. Being present for these Councils is both a privilege and an amazing moment in the life of a candidate seeking authorization in our denomination.
In the CT Conference UCC there are a total of 15 Associations that each have a Committee on Ministry that handle the Member in Discernment process. In the MA Conference UCC there are 10 Associations that do the same thing.
As we move toward a collaborative effort - potentially bringing our three Conferences under one umbrella - the process of receiving candidates who are interested in moving towards authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ will continue. The Association Committees on Ministry will continue to function in the same way that they have done for many, many years here in New England.
We are moving toward an historic Annual meeting in June, 2017 at the Convention Center in Hartford, CT where our three Conferences will gather for three separate Annual Meetings, vote on the resolution that has been voted on by the three Boards of Directors of the three Conferences, and then share in conversation and discernment about our future together.
I will be writing more in the coming weeks about the ways we three historic Conferences can collaborate and move to become something new for a shared future. We welcome your questions and hope that the delegates and authorized ministers of your church are encouraged to be present and vote about this matter in Hartford in June.
Interim Conference Minister, Barbara J. Libby
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