Ready or not the new year is upon us. So what are we going to do with the gift of the next 12 months? Whether you are a lay person, clergy, or a valued visitor, yours is the power to choose. Freedom is grounded in this power to choose, so rather than drifting into a new year I urge you to reflect, to prioritize, and to choose for yourself how you are going to invest the next year of your life.
Recently, it was my privilege to consult with a UCC conference that had fallen on challenging times. As we analyzed together the causes of this conference’s decline, one dynamic became very apparent. People, pastors, congregations had, over time, grown apart. They had mostly stopped gathering together and were in their own silos. Although uncomfortable with this state of affairs, nothing changed and the conference continued to drift.
As I survey the landscape of my own life it becomes readily apparent that it is natural to drift apart. It is sort of like swimming in the current of a river. If you tread water you will inevitably drift downstream. We are, in modernity, pulled in a multiplicity of directions with never enough time to do all that we should or would prefer. The problem is that human community (creating a place of belonging) is always upstream. The connectional nature of human community that makes life “sweet” requires proactive effort.
During this past year, I traveled by car 2,000 miles per month. This travel was necessary in order to visit congregations across the breadth of our conference. Additionally, I regularly attended monthly clergy gatherings in most of our Associations. In the Spring and Fall, our Associations hold meetings which I also attend. Starting in January I have asked our New Orleans Association to begin a monthly clergy gathering which I have committed to attend. I continue in the belief that social media is a wonderful blessing (most of the time) but that standing alone it is an insufficient foundation for healthy human community. There is in our human physicality something that yearns for human touch and for which there is no substitute. All of the aforementioned is, of course, my attempt to persuade you in prioritizing the “connectional.”
Of course, your family ties are going to be a valued priority and this is as it should be. But your church family starting at the local level is also critical to the welfare of yourself and your family. In turn, it is my belief that congregations are far more likely to thrive when they are in a healthy relationship with their association, conference and the national church. So, I urge you to plan for connection in this new year.
Please save the following dates:
Clergy Retreat with Rev. Ron Buford
- When: February 6-7
- Where: Slumber Falls
- We are blessed to have the Rev. Ron Buford joining us for the annual Clergy Retreat. If you do not know Rev. Ron, please take some time to view these podcasts to glean a bit of insight on him.
Annual Meeting SCC with Rev. Ron Buford
- When: May 31 thru June 1
- Where: New Orleans, Jung Hotel
Peace and Joy,