The 54th Annual Gathering of the NE conf UCC was held June 5-7, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Kearney, NE. I had the distinct pleasure of servicing as Moderator again, as Dan Cillissen was unable to attend. So as Past Moderator/Moderator and delegate of our little church, I am here to give this report.
Both Lay and Clergy delegates and various visitors began arriving anywhere from Thursday evening to Friday noon. Folk found the registration desk where their packets were waiting for them. Those who were new to the Conference Annual Gathering were encouraged to meet with Sue Shear (our own member from Plymouth!!) who would lead them through the process. Sue has shared in many roles throughout her life and especially knows her way around on the Conference level.
Rev. Roddy Dunkerson, our Conference Minister provided a time for folk to simply share in conversation with him. Various topics were discussed.
We held two hearings on the Conference By-laws to help delegates better understand the changes to be made.
Following dionner we went into Plenary, welcoming our guests and visitors. We explained the Credentials process, introducted members of the Annual Gathering Planning Committee; the Conference Staff; and the Board of Directors. "Speak Out" times were given for people to share aobut whatever was on their minds, events that were happening in their churches or the Conference/National settings, vendors sharing in why they were with us. Each person was limited to 2 minutes and Art Anderson made sure you didn't go over it!
Beth Peterson, Board of Directors Secretary moved to adopt the agenda. Passed.
Eilene Downie presented the report of the Nominating Committee. Passed.
We were greeted from Rev. Dr. Katrina Palan, Interim Regional Staff of the Disciples of Christ in Nebraska. Mr. Joel Weyland, Vice President for Enrollment Services and martketing at Doane College at Crete sent his welcome through media form.
Roddy gave us his State of the Conference Address.
Soul Desires Bookstore from Omaha was present; as was Kirsten Ennis of Healing Heart Arts of Bayard UCC, Bayard, NE.
Rev. Jacob Buchholtz, pastor of First PlymouthEast, Lincoln, NE was our preacher for worship. Accompanying him was Sam Eschliman as worship leader.
A feature from past Annual Gatherings was a hit again this year, as we gathered after all was said and done to a Wine and Cheese Tasting Party.
Our second hearing on the By-Laws was held. This seemed to be very helpful to our delegates in getting on board with the changes.
We recognized each of the 44 churches by name and town that were 5 for 5 churches: giving in all of these offerings, Strengthening the Church, Neighbors in Need, One Great hour of Sharing, The Christmas Fund (Veterans of the Cross), OCWM (Our Churches Wider Mission) - where 85% stays in Nebraska and 15% goes on to National.
We then recognized each of the 78 churches by name and town that gave to OCWM.
Eilene D. moved to adopt the Compensation Guidelines. The only change was a 2% increase for the cost of living rise. Passed.
Eilene D. moved the adoption of the By-laws as presented by the Board of Directors. Passed.
We attended workshops: we picked one for the early afternoon and the other in the evening. They included Music Worshop for Small Churches; Rogation Services; Hunger and Thirst for the Spirit; Animal ministry; Crativity and Critique: Assessing the Marks; Profile Party! An Overview of Search and Call in the UCC.
Following the first set of workshops we ate a delicious meal, celebrated several special Ordination Anniversaries.
All business was completed on Saturday.
Roddy lead a Memorial Service for those among our conference who had died in the past year or we wished to lift up. I lifted up Kenneth Rethmeier, Sr.
Installation of our Officers
Closing worship was held with Rev. Holly MillerShank preaching and Holy Communion being served. We adjourned and headed home!
Next year's meeting will be held June 10-11-12 Place TBA.
It was a joy to be able to serve the Conference again as Moderator. I never dreamed in the 32 years that I have been ordained that I would agree to doing this, let alone twice!!
Rev. Kathy Rahorst