Monday, November 12, 2018
For many people in our conference, we have spent the last number of years developing relationships with our southern neighbors in Pennsylvania Southeast. We began to develop relationships through invitations to meetings, events, and educational opportunities such as annual meetings, clergy convocation, ministry days, and more. In 2016, we began a formal discernment process by approving a transition team to help us discern whether we were being led into a merger process. For the past two years (2017-2018), the Joint Conference Visioning and Development Team has been charged with discerning God’s vision and calling for the churches of Eastern Pennsylvania. Team members from the north and south worked faithfully in this discernment process. The JCVDT held team meetings, interviewed staff, planned a joint retreat for the PNEC Board and PSEC Consistory, held a workshop for Committees on Ministry, and more. Together, we believed God was leading our Conferences to develop something new, a new way of living into ministry and relationships as a Conference of the United Church of Christ.
On Saturday, November 3rd, our conference voted by an overwhelming majority to move forward in the process of developing this new vision. This was the next step in the discernment process.
On Saturday, November 10th, the PSEC voted against the motion. There was a majority in favor of moving ahead. However, the body was divided, and there was not a 2/3 majority to move ahead in our work.
At this time, we will continue to discern where God is leading us. We have done incredible work together as a conference over the past three years. We have developed new structures to encourage new ministries. Our Committee on Ministry has restructured to be more creative and accountable in its work. We have revised our Constitution and Bylaws to help us become more nimble in our governance. We have a new vitality team to help connect and support our local churches. All of this work has been done through the presence of the Spirit encouraging us and strengthening us as the Body of Christ. Together, in relationship with God and one another, we are experiencing a renewal of the Spirit!
The Conference Board will continue to cast a vision for us in the Penn Northeast Conference to be bold and courageous in following God’s call. We will be compassionate and caring in supporting the work of our local churches and pastors. In all things, we will be led by the Spirit to discover what God is calling us to next.
Joanne Marchetto, Conference Board Moderator
Doug Taylor, Conference Board Assistant Moderator