“Life is about becoming more than we are, about being all that we can be,” writes Joan Chidester in her book “The Gift of Years.” The book was used as a resource for the recent UCC Retired Servants’ Retreat, an annual event for Retired UCC clergy, missionaries, volunteer ministry workers and spouses of the Southeast and Southern Conferences and co-sponsored by Blowing Rock Conference Center in Blowing Rock, NC. Those present ranged in age from late-sixties to mid-nineties, with about half of the participants from the Southeast Conference (photo below)! Participants reflected on various kinds of change and how we respond to change.
However, “becoming more than we are” is not just a focus for those who have retired, it is for all of us – especially those of us who seek to follow Jesus the Christ. “Becoming more than we are and being all we can be” motivates us to move forward through whatever changes and challenges we might face.
This past weekend, there was a gathering of the Al-TN-MS Association – also known as the Western Association – and now named the “Living Waters Association”. Through preaching, panel presentations, and conversations, there was the sharing of ways churches and individuals have been striving to become more than they are. The stories were amazing as those present were blessed by accounts about ministries of love, ministries of healing, and ministries of hope. The stories challenged us to “become more”.
This kind of connecting as the Southeast Conference provides opportunities in which we are able to be more than we are. Through the connections we encourage each other and we find ways to work together in following the call to be the church in today’s world. I find this exciting and hopeful! I want to say thank you to those of you, both churches and individuals that continue to support the Conference with your presence, your prayers, and your financial contributions. The Conference concluded the 2019 budget at the end of September (we use a fiscal budget October-September). I am excited to share that we ended the year over budget – more income than expenses! The Board of Directors had made various decisions that contributed to this. But also of great importance was your support to Our Churches Wider Mission (OCWM) and the Friends of the Conference Fund. Your financial support helps us “be more than we are” as we make connections with one another.
Moving into the future as a Conference, there is much work to do and much joy to share. There are challenges of course, but our faith calls us to see the vision and then work toward it, calling us to be “more than we are” and “all that we can be.” I sincerely hope that each of you will join us on this exciting journey!
Blessings, Char Burch