SNEUCC Fourth Annual Meeting
June 17, 2023
By Suzanne Thompson
The theme of the Conference, Roll Away the Stone, harks back to the empty tomb on Easter morning, and it was brought back throughout the proceedings as an invitation to roll out of our way the stones that may be keeping us from “living the love and justice of Jesus in a world that has been stretched, strained, and in desperate need of hope.” [quote from Rev. Darrell Goodwin, Executive Conference Minister]
The format of the annual meeting was rich in opportunities to gather with the entire group, with worship services and plenary sessions (i.e. business meetings) both morning and afternoon, and choices of several smaller workshops to attend during other times. We three Delegates struggled with the system of electronic voting for some necessary administrative decisions presented (but paper ballots were made available for those who found the technology impossible). The meeting voted to transfer endowment funds from the three historic conferences to the new Conference, and to make available a simplified procedure for introducing resolutions in future meetings, in addition to other administrative matters.
One of the workshop areas contained the Sacred Ally Quilt Ministry display. Handmade quilts both colorful and somber reminded us of George Floyd and the still unmet needs for justice.
One of the workshops was a presentation by three small churches who chose radical paths to address shrinking size and unsustainable expenses. United Congregational Church in Worcester gifted their church building and endowment to the Worcester Area Mission society, which allows the now even smaller congregation to worship in their former building. First Church Somerville embraced their identity as the “Queer Church,” and established a Queer Pastoral Residency program that is thriving. The Somers Congregational Church has embarked on an aggressive rental program of all their spaces including the Sanctuary.
A climate justice workshop presented contrasts between privileged neighborhoods and less privileged ones alongside. In Boston, it was noted, the lack of trees in certain neighborhoods is related to poorer health and lower property values, while areas with plentiful trees enjoy better outcomes. In Hartford, the incinerator (now shut down) which used to burn trash from affluent towns like ours was located in a minority neighborhood polluting the air of people who had not created the trash.
Planning is already underway for the 2024 annual meeting, to be held over a Friday night and Saturday, June 21–22 at UMass Amherst. We hope that others from our church will take advantage of the opportunity to be Delegates next yearl