Dear Friends In Christ, Sometimes I think that the Apostle Paul was a Conference Minister! He traveled – a lot, spent time writing letters, prayed for his many congregations, thanked people for contributing to the “needs of the saints” and extending hospitality, and encouraged churches in their ministries in challenging times. I will follow his lead in this letter.
I’ll begin with words of thanks. Thank you for your ministry and leadership during this time of global pandemic. In the midst of increased isolation, people are seeking connection to a higher power and one another. Our South Central Conference (SCC) churches are responding to these needs and serving with grace, compassion and courage. Thank you for being a powerful presence of hope in your community. Thank you also for sharing donations with the wider church. Your offerings to Our Churches Wider Mission have helped make a difference in the life of many clergy and congregations in the SCC, and also across the United Church of Christ. Thank you!
As for prayers and encouragement, here are a few updates:
- At every staff meeting, we pray for five different SCC churches and three National Setting staff members. We passionately feel that we are all in this together and so we spend time in prayer for each church, each authorized minister, and then ask God’s blessings upon the unique ministry and mission in each church community.
- A number of our SCC churches are in seasons of pastoral transition. The Conference has established a Search and Call Team that is a resource to churches that are saying farewell to pastors and searching for new settled ministers. The conference has a variety of resources and focuses on shepherding each congregation through the search process.
- The Conference has received a grant from the United Church Funds for establishing a series of clergy support seminars. In August, September and October, national leaders in clergy wellness, stewardship, visioning and online worship will be meeting online with our pastors to offer encouragement, support and new resources.
- Slumber Falls Camp completed a modified camp season within the guidelines suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Camp Association. This was a very difficult decision to open the camp for these sessions, but our camp leaders felt the mental health of our young people would benefit from this opportunity to experience God’s presence in nature, spiritual exercises, and one another.
- The Executive Committee of the Board has met to consider how to reduce budget expenses to match a forecasted decline in giving. We are also working hard to identify additional revenue streams, and we remain committed to supporting the UCC National Setting at the financial level approved in the 2020 Conference Budget.
I want to thank you for helping to make all of this possible with your donations to OCWM. I know that you have many financial challenges of your own in your congregation. Like Paul, I am thankful for your sharing of the gospel and for your partnership with other churches in the UCC. With your ongoing support we are sure that we can serve local churches more fully and more faithfully.
If you have particular concerns or needs, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone. Together, we are making a difference.
With you on the journey, Campbell Lovett