The Rhode Island Conference held its last Annual Meeting as a Conference on April 27, and the nearly 100 in attendance were challenged to consider new ways to jump into the deep end when thinking about what it means to be the church when the landscape of ministry is changing.
Assuming it is approved by General Synod in June, the Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut conferences will cease to exist as ecclesial entities, as they join together to form one new conference. The Rhode Island Conference has been functioning as both a Conference and an Association; in the future it will be an Association of the new conference.
Rev. David Pierce, Pastor Four Corners Community Chapel, preached on "The Gospel of Becomings," and talked about how sometimes it takes child-like faith to jump into the deep end.
For business, delegates accepted the Annual Reports from Conference staff, approved nominations, and approved minutes from the June Conference meeting. (Available here
The Rev. Don Remick, Transitional Conference Minister of the Massachusetts Conference, then gave a presentation on "Weird Church," based in part on the book of the same name. Remick talked about how, although church attendance has been steadily declining overall, the number of people who say they believe in God and engage in spiritual practices is not dropping.
People who do not attend churches see them as hypocritical, docrtrinal, out of touch and boring, he said. What they are looking for is clarity of passion and identity, acceptance and belonging, making a difference and mystical encounters with the Holy.
A recording of a previous version of Remick's presentation, and supported documents, can be found at: www.macucc.org/weirdchurch
Rhode Island's Transitional Conference Minister, the Rev. Marilyn Kendrix, and Together as One Board Vice President Cleo Graham then gave a presentation on the move toward a new conference, using a timeline to show the work to date. Information and background on Together As One can be found here
Finally, the meeting ended as it began - in worship - with a litany to mark the end of the covenanted relationship with Jennifer Geary, who is stepping down as Irons Homestead Director.
Go to a photo album from the meeting