June 17, 2017
The Rev. Dr. Javier Viera, Dean of the Theological School and Professor of Pastoral Theology at Drew Theological School in Madison, NJ, was this year’s Bible study leader. He offered a two-day examination of the guiding Scripture for this session Psalm 137.
Dr. Viera said the vulnerability we feel when having these vital conversations about race is part of what makes them so difficult to have. He asked:
“How do we as a Church inspire and cultivate fortitude and courage and strength in our people so that we can actually have these conversations in a meaningful way? And that if we are confronted with our own bias, with our own blindness that we aren’t going to whither, that we aren’t going to somehow shatter, but that we can take it and we can be open to our brothers and sisters leading us to a new way of being and of seeing and of living in the world because we trust that people are in this with us, not against us. How do we create that kind of culture amongst ourselves so we can be strong?”
Hear Friday’s study
Hear Saturday’s study
This year’s Wilbur C. Ziegler Preaching Award winner is the Rev. Dr. Thomas Blackstone, pastor at Pleasant Street UMC in Waterville, ME.
Rev. Blackstone said the “Spirit that we keep trying to squeeze into containers of fear so that it won’t change us, it’s time to let that Spirit loose.”
The following Licensed Local Pastors were recognized at this year’s Annual Conference.
Woodward, Robert (Woody)
Roberta Bragan was consecrated and commissioned as a Deaconess before the Annual Conference. She was consecrated at General Conference in 2016, but could not attend the 2016 Annual Conference. Her ministry is photo journalism; Bragan works to tell the stories of churches and people living out the mission of The United Methodist Church.
The New England Conference supports the Foundation offering its “full array of services” to religious institutions outside of Methodism.
With input and collaboration from clergy, laity, the Connectional Table, the Committee on Rules and members of the Annual Conference a motion was made to introduce the following substitution to the paragraph in the Pre-Conference Materials on page 132, lines 13-31
The Connectional Table is the center of leadership for the New England Conference, and is charged with the implementation of the vision. This group will operate according to the example of the General Conference Connectional Table following the spirit of what is laid out for that body in Paragraphs 93 and 94 of the 2016 Book of Discipline.
The Connectional Table will elect co-chairs, one laity and one clergy, from among its membership.
a) Six (6) at‐large* non‐staff seats to help ensure diversity elected by the Annual Conference. The Committee on Leadership/Nominations will nominate six people from a pool of 12: 6 clergy recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry and 6 laity recommended by the Board of Laity.
b) Bishop (non‐voting)
c) Lay Leader
d) Dean of Cabinet
f) BOOM Chair (co‐chairs will decide among themselves who will represent)
g) Chair of Conference Trustees
h) Director of Connectional Ministries
i) Representative from Conference Commission on Religion and Race
Brought by the Board of Church and Society, this resolutions states, in part: “The New England Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church declares itself in solidarity with individuals and families regardless of their refugee or immigration status or documentation, and those who come to their aid.”
Editorial changes were made to the following:
3. The New England Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church encourages that a sanctuary is not only a space for worship, but is primarily a place of refuge and safety; the NEAC therefore encourages that when a congregation or other body of the Conference discerns and declares itself a “Sanctuary” or in “Solidarity,” this definition applies to all properties owned and/or all ministry programs offered by that member congregation or group.
Calls on churches to observe Share Your Call Sunday on the fourth Sunday of Easter (Shepherd’s Sunday) with an offering to be received to “provide support for the recruitment and education of ordained and diaconal minster and courses of study.”
The resolution regarding the Nicaragua Covenant establishing partnerships with NGOs and ministry organizations in Nicaragua was tabled. The makers will work on a resolution to present to the 2018 Annual Conference. This resolution was removed from the Consent Calendar.
In his report to Annual Conference, Bernie Campbell, president of the Conference Board of Trustees offered an update on the move of the Conference offices.
New Conference office: While he did not release the location (tenets currently in the building have not yet been informed about the sale), the conference has found a new building, and is currently doing its due diligence on the property. Campbell said the expected date for the closing is sometime in August, and once renovations are completed, the staff could be in the new offices in early 2018. The purchase price is $1.2 million. The conference will occupy one floor of the two-floor building and will sell the other half of the building for half the purchase price.
566 Commonwealth Ave., Boston: A buyer has been found for the former conference offices; the buyer is currently doing their due diligence on the property and the sale will require approval from the coop board. The sale price is $350,000; closing could happen by August.
276 Essex St., Lawrence: A “significant offer” has been received to purchase the current Conference offices in Lawrence; a non-binding letter of intent has been signed. If this agreement can be consummated, this sale, along with the sale of the Boston property, will offset most if not all of purchase of the new building, Campbell said.
Daniel Genannt, P. Stewart Lanier, chair; Barbara Cann and Milka Gonzales, members of the newly re-energized Personnel Committee, gave a report on behalf of the committee.
The committee listed the following among its projects:
Update the job description of the Personnel Committee, including clarifying its reporting relationships
Review and update the Employee Handbook, including Personnel Policies and Procedures
Update the Performance Management tools and procedures
Clarify the annual merit bonus procedure
Review stipend positions (one has been transitioned to a staff position)
Clarify the role of the relatively new Human Resource Manager position