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The 56th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Conference was held June 24-25 in Montgomery, Alabama. Hosted by Community Congregational Church, visitors and delegates gathered with program leaders and presenters on-site and virtually for our first hybrid Annual Meeting. A huge shout-out goes to First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who provided space for the event when HVAC issues prompted Rev. Ray Speller, pastor of Community Congregational Church, and the local team working on the event to seek an alternate place to meet.
Rev. Traci Blackmon, UCC Associate General Minister for Justice and Local Church Ministries, offered the sermon for opening worship on Friday evening. Her message, given in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, energized the room and provided hope for the hard work of ministry that is before us. You can find Rev. Blackmon’s sermon about fruit flies and being the church on the Southeast Conference YouTube channel.
Rev. Blackmon also threw down the gauntlet during her presentation time on Saturday morning. Opting for a time of discussion and exploration instead of the traditional keynote speech, she invited attendees into an open dialogue about the challenges and call of being church together. People then gathered in regional groups, both in-house and on Zoom, to identify an immediate ministry focus to work on together. The dialogue that followed produced great ideas, and Rev. Blackmon has made a financial commitment from the UCC to each region’s project that comes to fruition. Watch for more information on continuing these conversations and putting our plans into play!
We also highlighted those celebrating ordination anniversaries in 2022.
Overall, our first Annual Meeting with an in-person component since 2019 was a great success! For people who have been looking forward to reconnecting in a physical space, that opportunity was provided with safe practices in place, fantastic meals to share, delightful vendors to visit in the Expo area, options to visit the Legacy Museum, the Rosa Parks Museum and other sites and experiences in Montgomery. For people who, because of distance, employment, and family schedules, Covid-19, and other health-related concerns, remote attendance made it possible to be in Montgomery without traveling to Montgomery. We’re already looking forward to expanding next year’s hybrid gathering. Stay tuned!