June’s Jottings: December 1, 2016

juneboutwell-redbackgroundAs we close this year of Jubilee, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Southeast Conference United Church of Christ, I am so grateful for all the wonderful people and significant ministries that are happening across this vibrant Conference. Though I still have much to do, with the capable help of staff and Conference leadership, this is a time of reflection for me-to see what is still undone and prioritize or let it go, to cast a critical eye over what has been accomplished and see places that it might be improved, to prepare to receive the next one who is called to lead these people, and to give thanks for all that God has accomplished in this season of ministry in my life and the life of the Conference.

I ask that you keep the Interim Conference Minister Search Committee in your prayers as they do their work of process and discernment. I ask you to keep staff in prayer as we look to the end of our lease with First Congregational Atlanta and all the tasks to close the physical office location. I ask you to keep the Board of Directors in prayer as they take up their tasks in this time of transition and keep the Conference functioning and on a steady path. I ask your prayers for the Commission on Ministry as they serve the more than 40 persons who are seeking authorized ministry in various forms, being faithful to the expectations of the United Church of Christ in oversight of ministers and ministries, and seeking to strengthen relationships with local churches. I ask your understanding and patience and affirmation as we move into a new horizon of a virtual office and new patterns of ministry.

I want to express a special word of thanks for the gifts that Michael Stroud has offered to the Southeast Conference. He has been the de factor historian of the Conference for many years. His collections of archival materials and his knowledge of the history of the Conference have been invaluable to me in understanding who these peculiar and particular people are and enriching my ministry among you. His articles written for each month of this year and the publication of our 50th anniversary history have greatly enriched and informed us all. It has been a labor of love and care.

As we see the familiar symbols of Advent and Christmas around us, I am finding that I am keeping an Easter image before me-that of the chrysalis and the butterfly emerging to beauty and new life. That is my experience of the Southeast Conference. We welcomed two new churches into full fellowship in November. We have had seven ordinations in my time here and perhaps a couple more before I leave. We are awaiting word on three Neighbors in Need local church grants which will hopefully join the ranks of the six received during my tenure here. We are announcing the next round of grant awards from the Transforming Churches, Transforming Lives capital campaign. Vibrant, beautiful, life-changing ministry is happening in our midst. My prayer for this season of waiting and birth and new life is that this time of grace and growth will continue.