BRISTOL - Nearly 100 people from across the Rhode Island Conference and beyond gathered together in community on Saturday for the 212th Autumnal Meeting, where they worshiped, conducted business and heard about the impact of Conference ministries.
A large part of the meeting, held at the First Congregational Church in Bristol, focused on hearing about the impact of ongoing Conference ministries.
Jonas Azolin, who is from Haiti and who has worked as a translator and friend of the RICUCC Haiti Task Team for many years, talked about the impact of that ministry in his life Grants from the Haiti Task Team helped him to receive schooling in computer technology and theology.
"You, RICUCC, have been in the middle of these accomplishments," he said. "RICUCC missionaries have influenced my life."
Over the past almost 30 years, the Haiti task team has also helped to build schools, clinics and chapels, and currently provides an egg a day to 2,500 children to combat malnutrition.
Jennifer Geary, the director of Irons Homestead reported on the ongoing work at the camp, which hosted a number of overnight campers this summer who otherwise reside in homeless shelters.
Kristin Putney reported on the large number of children and youth who have been taking part in statewide, regional and national events through the Conference. Putney has also been working to bring together young adults from a number of churches for fellowship.
Peggy Matteson reported on the difference it can make to have a health care coordinator at a church when a member is in need of assistance, and Barbara Gregory told of her work as the Conference's Disaster Coordinator.
More in-depth reports on those ministries will be posted to this site.
In the business portion of the meeting, delegates to the 212th Autumnal Meeting of the Conference:
Approved new and separate bylaws for the Rhode Island Association. This was a necessary step in preparing the Conference - which has previously acted as both Conference and Association - to join with the Massachusetts and Connecticut conferences in forming a new conference. The bylaws can be found in the delegate packet.
Approved a $448,000 general operating budget for the Conference for 2019. To fund that, $285,000 is expected to come from churches, and $163,000 will be taken from the Conference's endowment. A full report of the budget is posted here.
Approved compensation guidelines for clergy which call for a 2.8 percent cost of living increase. The guidelines can be found in the delegate packet.
In discussing the Conference budget, Conference staff and board members said they hope that forming a new Conference with Massachusetts and Connecticut, beginning in 2020, will result in cost savings that will alleviate the need to draw on the endowment in the future. The Conference has a $1.9 million endowment, although much of that is restricted; $672,000 is available for use in supporting the budget.
Conference Chief Financial Officer Bob Nolan said the Conference has been working to pare down expenses, and as an example, said $14,000 is being saved by moving the Conference office from an office building to a church. He also pointed out that eight of the Conference's 30 churches do not currently contribute to the Conference, which adds a strain to the budget.
Transitional Conference Minister The Rev. Marilyn Kendrix said she be asking to visit with those churches in the coming months.
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