Wow, here we are in the first week of October 2023, the 10th month for me as your Bridge Conference Minister and for each of you with brand new conference staff! What a time we have had thus far, getting to know one another and all that our portfolios hold, to be fully present for each of you as best we can with limited staff. We were blessed to have our first Staff Retreat last week. What time we had teaching one another, reviewing what we have accomplished thus far.
We have celebrated ordinations, installations, and service of release. As well as sitting at the bedside of one of our beloved pastors as she journeyed from this life to the next. Watching children play in gun-free zone areas where they could just be kids, get their face painted, jump around, play games, and get their hair cut, to God be the glory for all God has done. In us, through us, alongside us, as your Conference staff, and as you all, as the Conference as a whole. We all put in our right foot, left foot, right hand, and left hand. We have put ourselves in as we have done the hokey pokey. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you to those who serve on the Conference Council. Thank you to all who serve on the Committee on Ministry sections A through E. Thank you to the Conference financial team, as they work so hard to ensure we have a budget. Deep gratitude to all authorized ministers, chaplains, and the local congregations that plant a seed quarter after quarter through OCWM giving, which allows us to be present for all of you the best we can. Each day, a month, or ten months is a time of rich learning. Each day, I learn something new that helps me do this call to ministry the best I can.
I am so grateful for our Conference Managing Administrator, Melinda LaViene, who has worked tirelessly for so many hours, not just getting through the day-by-day emails, phone calls, and requests, while also supporting the Committee on Ministry for incoming Ministers through the member and discernment process to the transferring in process and dual standing, along with the privilege of call process. She also assisted over 150 ministers who were out of compliance in lifelong learning by uploading all their documents and ensuring they had the needed training to prevent suspension of standing. We thank you, sister Melinda. I would also like to thank Joy Davis, Office Support, who came out of retirement last year, which was supposed to be just for a short time, and here she is now, ten months into this year. Still, she supports the staff, conferences, and camps. She is fantastic. Thank you, sister Joy. I also would like to thank Associate Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Celestine Fields, to God be the glory for your gifts, talents, and love for judicatory ministry. Rev. Dr. Fields ensured we had as many offerings as possible for boundary training, racial justice training, coaching, and Communities of Practice to support our authorized ministers best. She also oversees the Conference Justice and Witness Ministry. Rev. Dr. Fields, you came in revved up and ready to go, and I am so grateful.
Please know that your conference staff collaboratively works together, and we spent several days on a retreat to get to know each other even better so that we can be a well-oiled machine that continues to move and navigate through this thing called Conference Ministry.
Thank you to all 112 churches that we have. We thank you for your gifts. We thank you for your OCWM offerings. We thank all the volunteers that serve on our boards and committees for us to be the church. To be the hands and feet of Christ in the world in this Northern California Nevada Conference, and the communities we serve. Thank you! I am so grateful to be your bridge Conference Minister and moving towards becoming your settled Conference Minister. Please let us know how we are doing because we can only improve through your honest, loving feedback. Thank you, Northern California Nevada Conference United Church of Christ, for trusting me and your Conference staff to do what we have been called to do together in unity through the love of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We thank you, and we are so grateful. God bless you, and I will see you soon. Do not forget to invite us to worship and sit at the table of love, grace, and mercy. Invite us to come and chat over tea or coffee while we get to know each of you.