Comments and reflections from our delegates and others from First Church who attended this year’s Conference meeting!
Video highlights from the meeting can be found here
from Maggie George:
I had so much fun doing the drumming workshop on Saturday and then being able to be part of the closing worship service by drumming for the dancers. It was so empowering to know that I could do it — keep a beat that is — as well as be a part of a celebrative closing worship in a way that really reflected the energy in the place.
I appreciated Wade Zick’s workshop on becoming a FAITH FORMING FIVE congregation. I see that Aaron and others are bringing much of this thinking to life within First Church and the workshop gave me a chance to appreciate the whys and hows of the effort. I look forward to seeing First Church grow more bold in this area of deliberately working toward greater faith formation for all of us.
Saying good bye to Karen Smith-Sellers as our Conference Minister was bitter sweet. She has made such a huge impact on the Minnesota Conference. Her vision and her leadership have set us on a strong path to flourish and grow. The leadership of the staff and the volunteers give me great hope for our future. Having said that, I also got the clear message that we can’t just sit around and expect everything to go well, rather we must be ready and willing and equipped to do bold new things. The Conference is there to help and provide ideas, materials and support but we must step up and make it happen within our own church.
from Bonnie Johnson:
I want to thank the members of First Church for electing me to be a delegate. It is enriching and inspiring to attend this annual gathering and it was great to have First Church so well represented! Because I have attended before what stood out for me this time was the mixed feelings everyone had because of the retirement of Karen Smith Sellars as our Conference Minister. The Conference has developed into a solid, well-organized, accountable, spiritual and forward looking entity. There is much thankfulness and appreciation for that. There’s confidence but some uneasiness in moving ahead now. However, the other dynamic I was aware of is how many new clergy and laity are visible and active, and as much as I missed many old familiar faces this is a good thing and in keeping with the theme of the annual meeting “Behold I Am Doing a New Thing.” I especially appreciated keynoter Felix Carrion’s address and Bible study and all the good singing during worship times.
From Sandy Johnson:
First, of course, it is always wonderful to see my friends from around Minnesota who I don’t get to see very often. This year, my dear friend Linda Crowe (and her husband Randy) are living in Brainerd where Linda is the Interim Minister — it was great to connect with them!
As chair of the Conference Professional Development Sub-committee I led a hearing on the 2014 Clergy Compensation Guidelines. It’s not a flashy or exciting topic, so I was especially pleased by the number of folks who came and were committed to putting together appropriate and just compensation packages for their ministers.
Third, I was very moved by the Sunday morning Bible Study by the Rev. Felix Carrion. He brought a new depth to my understanding of Holy Communion as well as the specific passage he was speaking about. I felt really ministered to by his words.
Finally, it was great to be part of the First Church delegation — we rocked the place!
from Mary Klonoski:
Most years my favorite things at the Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference UCC are the C’s (conversations and catching up with UCC friends from around the state and the congregational singing at the worship services.)
This year the B’s (Bible studies presented by Rev. Tony Robinson and Rev. Felix Carrion) were my meeting favorites. How did this happen? 1) Bible study at First Church led by the dynamic Marguerite Unwin Voelkel has made me an aficionada and 2) the presentations by Rev. Robinson and Rev. Carrion were brilliant.
In Rev. Robinson’s thoughtful study of Isaiah 43:1, 15-21, he challenged us to make God the subject of our verbs, not ourselves, and to let go of the old and receive God in a new reality.
During Rev. Carrion inspiring study of II Corinthians 3:6, 4:7-18, he stressed that when the temporary fades away our deepest identity is our unity with God. We are the new thing God is doing.
Both studies left a lasting impression and have given me new energy.
from Jake Schlagel:
This year’s annual meeting was full of energy, and some great discussions of how we as church can let God “do a new thing” through us (Isaiah 43:19). The highlight of the weekend for me was the Rev. Dr. Karen Smith Sellers’ sermon on Friday night, in which she spoke about how to move forward as a church – looking into a changing future without neglecting the gifts we have from the past. It was an amazing sermon, and I urge everyone to check out the video online here: http://vimeo.com/68235839.
from Clyde Steckel:
I was taken by the excellence of the speakers, workshops, music and business sessions. They all represented Karen’s high standards as conference minister. That kind of meeting builds both confidence in the conference and hope for its future. But everyone seemed aware of the change that is bound to come with a new conference minister. Karen was praised at every turn, and rightly so.