Shared identity…

There are always moments in the life of any community that stand out. Some of them shimmer with joy and celebration. Others hang heavy with sorrow or despair. Still others gather us and give us a shared identity as something new emerges from our past.
 
katherine officeI believe that this past weekend was one of those “stand out” moments in the life of the Iowa Conference. On Friday of last week, we gathered to be in conversation around the crucial and powerful issue of race in our nation. Jennifer Harvey challenged us to think in new ways. She invited us to live out our beliefs in bold action that might begin repairing the harm that slavery and racism have done in our midst. No one who gathered in the fellowship hall at First Christian Church in Des Moines , Iowa on October 21 will think about issues of race and racism the way they did before. It was a day that changed the conversation.
 
That was also true on Saturday, as we gathered in the Annual Meeting of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ. From preaching that reframed the story of the Good Samaritan (THANK YOU, Lillian Daniel!), to music that tapped the depths of our faith (THANK YOU Rob Leveridge!), to the vote to share a Conference Minister among Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, the day was filled with appreciation for our past and hope for our future. The 2016 Annual Meeting is just the beginning of a new experiment in church life!
 
In lots of ways, I think that last Friday and Saturday expressed some of the best of the UCC. The hugs that greeted old friends and the conversations that began new friendships gathered us as community and reminded us of the bond we share through our faith in Jesus Christ. The willingness to talk about difficult issues, to consider bold new ideas, and step outside traditional thinking was evident both days. We saw it on Friday, as we talked openly and honestly about racism in our nation and in ourselves. We experienced it on Saturday, as we considered the Tri-Conference Proposal with respectful questions and conversation. These two days will – for a long time to come – help us to name who and whose we are, as we move forward into a future that is precious to God, but may seems uncertain to us.
 
THANK YOU! Thank you to the Board of Directors. Thank you to Rich Pleva and those who planned Annual Meeting and Friday’s day of Continuing Education. Thank you to Jo Ordway and Diane Leggett who made all the arrangements that made the weekend run so smoothly. Thank you to the people who gathered financial information and presented it clearly. Thank you to Jonna Jensen and Brigit Stevens for the work that they do day in and day out in our churches. Thank you to Conference Minister from Nebraska and South Dakota – Roddy Dunkerson and Gordon Rankin who traveled to be with us. Thank you to the Marketplace, who sold books and pottery and discussed wider church needs, to the missionaries who shared their story, to the seminaries that came with vision and hope for the church’s future. Thank you to the daycare providers who cared for our present and our future. And thank you to every person who “showed up” to BE the Iowa Conference last weekend! It was a weekend we will remember for a long time.
 
—Katherine Mulhern,  Iowa Conference Program Support/Adjunct
2030 Iowa (Young Clergy Support)

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