“Strengthening the Ties that Bind Us”
As our strategic discernment process was fully launched last summer, over 400 people across the Conference gave us valuable feedback by responding to an electronic survey or accepting invitations to participate in focus groups or individual interviews. Among the many messages that emerged from all that feedback was this: we hunger for deeper connection.
Pastors told us they often feel isolated and long for a stronger support network. Congregations, too, want to link up with other churches across the Conference to better understand how our ‘neighbors’ might be dealing with similar challenges. You underscored the importance of feeling like we’re all part of something bigger than our own community or congregation, and urged us to consider how we can best nurture the connections between local congregations and the wider church. And you told us that the “urban/rural” divide is still a factor in our life together, and that you think it could be bridged if we really took time to understand each other’s contexts.
In a time in our nation’s life when we are increasingly divided, we’re seeking connection. In a denomination that prides itself on autonomy, we’re longing for a deeper sense of covenant and interdependence. What a powerful message!
Annual Meeting is that wonderful opportunity we have each year to gather as one Minnesota Conference UCC community and nurture our connections. Your evaluations remind us every year that the facet of Annual Meeting that attendees appreciate most is the chance to reconnect with old friends, learn from each other, and discover the surprising ways we hold so much in common. This year’s theme is perfect for this moment: “Created for Connection: One Body, Many Members”.
I hope to see you at Annual Meeting this year. Actually, I really need to see you! We all need that time together to strengthen the ties that bind us, lend each other support, share in laughter and joy, and to gather our collective courage to be the Church Christ calls us to be in all the world.
See you at Annual Meeting!
With you on the journey,
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister