Well, I must say this is not the way we thought we would be doing Annual Conference. We had a Zoom conference on Saturday, October 17 from 8:30 to about 5:00.
The Episcopal address was very good. The Bishop was concentrating on the racial divisions that exist. He quoted from Martin Luther King and John Lewis. He spoke of MLK’s 23 traits of a beloved community and, unfortunately, I thought it was a book so did not write them down. Then when I tried to find the book it wasn’t there. He spoke of the work being done by the Commission on Race and Religion. On a side note, Todd Warfield is teaching a class on videos from the Commission. The Bishop said there will also be more trainings coming up and possibly an Advent study. Bishop Devadhar did recommend a book that has come out recently. It is CASTE by Isabel Williams.
Brackett Memorial UMC on Peak’s Island ME has disaffiliated from the NE Conference. At the 2019 Annual Conference parameters were laid out for any church wanting to disaffiliate due to the LGBTQ issue. Brackett has met all of these and the only thing left was for the Conference to vote on it. There was much discussion, some people feeling they should stay in to help the rest of us fight for the change, some feeling they should wait until after General Conference. Ultimately we affirmed the vote.
Eleven churches have closed this past year. They are: St.James in Stoneham MA, St Paul in Ludlow MA, Wellspring in Shrewsbury MA, Wesley in E. Hartford CT, West Arlington in West Arlington VT, West Berkshire in West Berkshire VT, Federated Church in Ayer MA, Bridgton in Bridgton ME, Clark Memorial in Portland ME, Danforth in Danforth ME and Glastonbury in Glastonbury CT. There are good reasons for these closures, but I find it very sad.
There were a couple of items on the agenda that would have ensured that our committees will be more inclusive in the future. These were both tabled as we were having much discussion about this, not so much that people objected, but the way in which this was going to be accomplished. I personally was very disappointed that they were tabled.
The other item that was tabled was from the Board of Pensions and was about figuring pension requirements for churches that wish to disaffiliate.
All in all it was a very uneventful conference as compared to others in the past.
Hopefully my report for next year will be written after an “in person” conference.