Today is my third week as your Bridge Conference Minister (BCM), and what an impactful three weeks it has been. First, I would like to thank God, who continues to bless, keep, watch over, and guide me. I would also like to thank two of the most delightful working colleagues I am blessed to serve alongside, Office Manager MeLinda LaViene and Office Support Joy Davis. Their jobs are extremely demanding and they work so hard to ensure you all have everything you request promptly.
Your Conference Staff is intelligent, competent, wise, compassionate, and filled with the love of God. I ask with loving kindness and, at the same time, sternness, as Conference to please be mindful that we are currently a staff of 2 ½ people doing the work of 4 ½ persons. Please know that we diligently respond to your calls, emails, voicemails, and texts as quickly as possible. Please extend us some grace during this short-staffed time. We eagerly look forward to our new ACM joining us in less than three weeks.
MeLinda and I are blessed to have Joy’s many years of memory and support. MeLinda has twenty-five years of customer service, human resources, tech support, ligations, arbitration, and software skills. MeLinda’s office hours are Monday-Friday, 8 am – 4:30 pm. Joy is in the office one day a week and works fifteen hours weekly. My workdays are Tuesday-Saturday. Monday is my Sabbath, and I do not work, check email, or answer my work line. Self-care is essential, and we plan to work within the listed hours for sustainability.
My first few days of January were a time of continued learning and adjusting to this new role and getting all accounts and emails set up. I also needed to get familiar with all the meetings, boards, and committees in which I will participate.
The second week along with MeLinda, my daughter Mikayla and twenty-two Ministers, we had a wonderful retreat at the Embassy Suites in Monterey. We shared meals, danced the hokey pokey, and played games (miniature bowling, Jenga, tic tac toe, and trivia) while eating delicious treats. Morning worship allowed us to pause, feel God’s presence surround us, and prepare us for the day. It also gave us a moment to regather, reconnect with old friends, and meet new friends. There was laughter, singing, painting, planting seeds, and sharing deeply what your Conference Staff can do to best support those whom God has called us to serve in this Conference. During the beautiful time we shared at the retreat, California was dealing with one of the most severe storms ever. The streets of San Francisco and other areas in the Bay Area were flooded so high that some rode their surfboards, inner-tubes, and other water toys. Sadly, much traffic was stalled by all the water pouring into their cars. Those folks were stuck and stranded for hours.
The Conference Disaster Team is available to support all churches and the communities they serve during these difficult times. Please contact your conference disaster team through Rev. Dr. Ken Moore at DrKMoore@juno.com and BCM Davena Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you or your congregation would like to support your neighbors in need, here is how to help:
Join the Willing to Respond Network of Churches: Willing to Respond Preparedness Network
Assemble Kits and Clean Up Buckets: CWS Buckets and Kits | Help Communities in Need Around the World (cwskits.org)
Donate Emergency Funds-Designate to Emergency USA: Donate Now – United Church of Christ (ucc.org)
Sign up to Volunteer: https://support.ucc.org/volunteer-opportunity-form
Volunteer Opportunities: UCC Ministry Opportunities
Show forth, O God, in power and peace what you have done and are doing in our world. Before some of us can sing a song of gladness again, O God, we have to get over something. Great earthquakes have occurred, causing us to question your story. We have a fear of your story, an estrangement from it. Some of us are angry. Some of us are hurt. And no one seems to notice. They keep telling us everything is going to be okay, but still we’re hurt.
Help us tell the truth without making people even more afraid. All some of us want is the day before we had the quake. And we know we can’t have any day back; we know that some days are just gone. And then comes Epiphany, the time when God is revealed. Reveal yourself, O God, to each one of us here. Bring us to your glory and help us move on to new days. In the name of Jesus, who is never far away. Amen.
This prayer was written by Karl Jones, a UCC Conference Disaster Coordinator
Lastly, I was blessed to sit on a panel at Trinity Cathedral-Episcopal in Sacramento for the North State Ecumenical Council, where three denominational leaders were part of a five-person panel. It was a privilege to sit on that panel with Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, Megan Traquair, and Regional Minister of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, LaTaunya M Bynum. The question lifted was what it means to “Do Good; Seek Justice” (Isaiah 1:17). The Spirit moved through our conversations, the preaching moment, and the angelic voices of Kyle’s Temple AME Choir. They sang one of my favorite songs by Edwin Hawkins, “Give us this Day” the music fed my soul, and my spirit lifted.
God be with you and don’t forget to Hokey Pokey~Put your Whole Self In!