The Southeast Conference was the last of the conferences of the United Church of Christ to be organized following the formation of the denomination in 1957. Opposition to the organization of the conference was provoked especially by a measure passed at the 1963 UCC General Synod calling for the termination of financial support to churches and institutions that practiced racial segregation and that did not have an “open-door” policy toward all people. The proposed formation of the Southeast Conference would encompass the white Southeast Convention of Congregational Christian Churches, the absorption of the African-American Convention of the South with one another and the southernmost portion of the South Indiana Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church into one. The Southeast Conference effectively integrated Southern Congregationalism and the southern churches of the Evangelical and Reformed tradition.
An initial attempt to organize the Southeast Conference failed on a first vote in 1964 by the Southeast Convention, but delegates approved the matter to be reviewed again the following year. The Convention of the South approved the joining relationship on its first vote. On April 24, 1965, thanks in large measure to several Alabama and Georgia ministers and lay people who changed their minds during the course of a year, the matter finally passed the annual meeting of the Convention. The stage was set for the new Southeast Conference to begin operations on New Year’s Day 1966. The Rev. Dr. William J. Andes, was called to serve as the first conference minister, and served for 14 years. He was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Emmett O. Floyd (1980-87), the Rev. Roger D. Knight (1988-95). The present conference minister, the Rev. Dr. Timothy C. Downs was elected in 1996.