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by Kim Wood, Conference Minister
Thank you, Kirkwood United Church of Christ, for hosting the 2023 Southeast Conference Annual Meeting! The site was fantastic, the food was delicious, and the hospitality was amazing. Rev. Susannah Davis, Rev. Charmaine Penn-Johnson, and Rev. Heather Fosburgh, thank you for opening the doors wide to make way for us to gather in Atlanta. Thank you to the Tech Team, George Darr and Liam Waya, who magically made all things possible! And thank you to the local site team, led by Jean Riehl and Rev. Dave Sigmund, as well as the many volunteers who made it all look so easy while making us all feel right at home!
A huge THANK YOU to our sponsors, the Financial Ministries of the United Church of Christ: The Church Building and Loan Fund, The Cornerstone Fund, the Insurance Board, The Pension Boards, and the United Church Fund, whose generosity made it possible for Cole Arthur Riley to be Keynote Speaker for this year’s Annual Meeting!
Thank you to the SECUCC Annual Meeting Planning Committee – Rev. Susannah Davis, Rev Heather Fosburgh, Rev. Haley Lerner, Ken Love, Zena Martin (cookie-maker extraordinaire!) , Minister Carrole Moss, Rev. Tom Query, Jean Riehl, Rev. Dave Sigmund, who put together an engaging and fun event! From our time-appropriate theme, IMAGINE: Renewing Self and Church, to inviting our opening worship preacher, Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Fry Brown and keynote speaker Cole Arthur Riley, to all the pieces in between, you provided a vision and a plan that provided exactly what we needed in this time and space of being church together, both onsite and online.
Thank you the people who guided us throughout our plenary and worship moments! Thank you Rev. James Banks, Anna Murphy (who also created the beautiful Conference Cookies!), Rev. Susannah Davis, Rev. Myrtle Johnson, Rev. Jennifer Baker, and Micah Graham, for providing inspiring music. Thank you, Rev. Charmaine Penn-Johnson, Rev. Joyce Myers-Brown, and Kim Johnson, for serving as liturgists. Thank you, Rhonda Dunn and Rev. Will Norman, for serving as our Parliamentarians. And thank you, Rev. Richard Barham, for, for so aptly leading us through the business sessions, the pieces of our ministry together that are necessary to provide both framework and accountability as we walk faithfully in partnership together.
Thank you to our presenters and workshop leaders: Don Harris, Jonathan Parker, Rev. Helene Loper, Rev. James Pennington, Rev. Tom Query, Pastor JRae Rice-Cranford, thank you for the meaningful and timely workshops. Cindy Howell (UCC Insurance Board), Rev. Haley Lerner and Rev. Will Norman (Presbyterian Student Center, Rev. James Pennington (Back Bay Mission), and Rev. Dave Sigmund (UCC Philanthropy Team/UCC Church Building and Loan Fund), for sharing with us about your important ministries. Thank you, Michael Bowen and Rev. Jennifer Baker, for leading the Budget Hearing. Also, thank you to Rev. Char Burch for leading our Retired Clergy Boundary Training, and Kim Johnson for creating our meditation and centering spaces. Thank you, as well, to all our exhibitors, and especially Charis Books and Harrelson Press. I’m sure I have missed someone along the way. Please know that I am grateful for all the ways you made this SECUCC Annual Meeting a success.
And finally, thank you to all who were able to attend this important annual gathering of the Southeast Conference. You, your congregations and ministry settings, you are the reason we come together to build relationships and share the vision that God has set before us as the Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. To God be the glory for all that we do together in Christ’s holy name!