Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our wider life in the church

Our Life in the Wider Church
This was not the first VT Conference Annual Meeting I have attended. The more often I attend, the more it’s like a reunion – a chance to connect with others from across the state that I don’t see on a regular basis.

Again this year my favorite part of Annual Meeting was the 7 a.m. Peace Breakfast. I got to hear about the wonderful missions that are being done in the
Celebrating our Graduates!
various churches to help build a more peaceful and just world. After listening to all the amazing stories, those gathered join hands and sing… “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me”. This never happens without sending chills running down my back as we all raise our joined hands on the last line – a repeat of the first.

This year I also came away with a new “tool” for being with God. Lecto Divina – praying the scriptures. Read or listen to a scripture passage and see what word or phrase draws my attention. Read/Listen to the scripture again, what it is about the word/phrase that is speaking to me and then sit quietly with that to see what I can hear from God. Reading the scripture a third time closes my prayer time. This experience had a powerful impact on me and so I thought I would bring it back to Bethany – to the Deacons – as a way to be a spiritual group together in our mission of worship. I am happy to share more about this with anyone who is interested.

Thank you all for allowing me the blessed opportunity of being a VT Conference Annual Meeting delegate from Bethany.
Peace to all,
Liz Sykas-Ringgenberg

Stewardship is more than....

I wrote my Article for this Dialogue last night and instead of hitting the button that saved it, I deleted the whole thing! I thought, “OK, God. I guess that wasn't what you wanted me to say. I'm tired. I'm going to bed and I will trust that you are going to have something for me in the morning”.

So I had a dream ----I was on a beach and a Tsunami came. I had time to let people know that it was coming. No one panicked, they just turned away from the beach and started to walk/run to higher ground. I appreciated the fact that the wall of water that was about 30 ft high seemed to be moving at the same pace as we were. No matter what how quickly we were walking or running to safety, the water was keeping pace – being very gentle and not trying to scare us? Even though being following by a 30 ft wall of water was a little disconcerting.

So, this morning I asked God, “What is the message? Instead of taking the human view of a tsunami and its destruction, I always keep in the back of my mind the fact that God looks at things a little differently. What if that “water” represents a cleansing, a washing away, an opportunity to “float” and to be carried to what we are becoming. What if that water is an Abundance that we can't even realize so God is not going to hit us over the head with it, God will just show it to us and wait for us to get ready.

I heard a lot about the Emergent Church at Annual Meeting. Churches are going through a great time of change. If I use my dream as an analogy, we can either run in panic and look back at the “water” coming at us with fear and suspicion thinking it will “drown” us or.......we can move at our own pace – all of us together – and see that wall of water as God's Abundant, Unconditional Love that is always with us and all we need to do to be able to “Receive” more of it is to learn to swim (or buy a boat!).

I hope this is what God wanted me to say and that I will be able to save it.......
Love and Blessings
Joanne Hardy

There were no surprises for me at the Annual Meeting. In the first place, I had been part of the of the Planning Committee for the previous 12 months and had been over and over and over the schedule. I knew exactly what would come where, who would say what, when everything would happen.

There were nothing but surprises for me at Annual Meeting. I had no idea it would be so hard to find my dorm room for the weekend. I didn't know that the keynote speaker would be charming, entertaining, enlightening and a joy to be around. I had no idea the workshop I attended would be so thoughtful and well attended. I had no idea that all the resolutions and the budget would pass without rancor. Or, for that matter, any debate or even discussion.

I had expected to reconnect with old friends and make new friends within the Vermont Conference and beyond. THAT certainly happened - no surprise there!

Carrie Youngblood
[Carrie has been the
President of the Conference
for the last year and ran the Annual Meeting. -ed.]

Conference Updates

The Annual Meeting Offering was $2,308.52 - the largest in recent memory. This will be split evenly between Church World Service and Dillard University.
Go to Bethany's Web page to find the links for :

*Two of the local church videos which played at the Conference at the beginning of each Plenary and during breaks.

*A short film: Remembering Edna, about the life and work of Edna Fairbanks Williams, long time Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council (VLIAC) board president. Edna died in May of last year in an automobile accident.

*For the texts of Rev. Ben Guess' Plenary presentations and pictures of Annual Meeting taken by Annual Meeting photographer, Ms. Anne Collins.

Bethany Church is a member church of the Washington Association of the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ. Every 2 years our denomination (UCC) as its Annual Meeting. The Vermont Conference does it every year. Eight People from Bethany Church attended The Vermont Conference Annual Meeting. Here are reflections/comments from 3 of them.