Advent Blessings, Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanza to you and your families. Praise the Lord! We made it.
Wow, where did the year go? It seems like January was just a few months ago. Collectively, as the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ (NCNCUCC), we have done some fantastic ministry together over the last twelve months. I am grateful for each of you and how you have shared your gifts, talents, time, and finances with the conference. Your conference staff, Associate Conference Minister– Rev. Dr. Celestine Fields, Conference Managing Administrator- MeLinda LaViene, Office Support– Joy Davis, and I- Newly Elected Settled Conference Minister- Rev. Davena Creer-Jones, come together first to honor and praise God, our Holy Creator. And then to serve God, the Churches, Communities, Authorized Ministers, those discerning their call to ministry, and so much more. Because of all the ways you pour into the conference it allows us to pour out as we are called individually and collectively to serve our conference with strength, encouragement, great joy, and deep-rooted love.
We celebrated the 150th Church anniversary of the Chinese Congregational Church UCC-San Francisco. The Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia A Thompson, the first female and that of African Descent, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, was the keynote speaker for that extraordinary day. We were blessed to worship with her and share a meal on Sunday afternoon, followed by a Q&A session, more delicious food, and rich conversations. Weddings, baby blessings, camp chaplains, praying with ministers and their loved ones during medical illnesses and treatment. I even had the heartbreak and joy of sitting with Rev. Sharon Li-Meishem MacArthur and her family as she transitioned from this life to the next.
Collectively, your staff has traveled hundreds of miles from one end of our conference to the next, with still so many churches to visit. Installations, Ordinations, Service of Releases, Funeral-Homegoing Celebrations, New Church starts, churches discerning closure, and others to sell and repurpose their land. Thank you, Jesus. We have had the opportunity to show up, celebrate, and sit at the table of reason and love.
Eight years ago, I said yes to becoming one of the Associate Conference Ministers (ACM) here in NCNC. I did not know that all the ways I served as a layperson within the conference were paving the way to answer the call as ACM. All that I learned and the skills I developed as ACM allowed me to answer the call as your Bridge Conference Minister. A position to hold space and to continue with the goals and mission the conference set forth with the voted-upon resolutions passed at the Annual Gathering and led by the previous Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Diane Weible.
These past twelve months have again prepared me to say yes to the call as your Settled Conference Minister. And with a 95% yes vote from those who attended the Fall Annual Meeting, I feel the love, support, encouragement, grace, and mercy you shared with me. Thank you for putting yourself in during 2023. Let’s hokey pokey in 2024 as siblings of Christ Jesus as we vision A New Thing—Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us to each of you. The Conference office will be closed from December 25- January 2, 2024. However, I will be available for urgent needs.