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2012 NY Conference Annual Meeting
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New York Conference
2012 Annual Meeting


A New Conference Minister
Another Year of Discernment Regarding Structure
Financial Challenges
Global Partnerships
Biblical Reflection and Inspiring Worship
Recognition of Service and Skillful Leadership
Fellowship, Fun, Food

 

Over 260 persons from 72 churches gathered in Binghamton June 8 - 12 for the 2012 Annual Meeting of the New York Conference, UCC.

Rev. David R. Gaewski
Rev. David R. Gaewski
Delegates called the Reverend David R. Gaewski as our new Conference Minister by a vote of 210 to 2.  Before the vote, Gaewski introduced himself on Friday evening, then answered wide-ranging questions on Saturday.  He currently serves as Maine Conference Minister, a position he has held for the last 15 years.  Repeatedly Gaewski asked that we allow ourselves to "dream" about the future of churches in the NY Conference, at the same time working creatively and diligently to fund the ministries we value.  He begins his service August 13.



Bonnie Bates presented proposed changes
Bonnie Bates presented proposed changes.



While commending those who researched and proposed new structures for governance and ministry in the New York Conference, delegates voted 105 to 81 to return these proposals to the Executive Council for further examination and consultation, targeting the 2013 Annual Meeting for the next vote.  This Meeting will be hosted by the Metro Association and will convene May 31 - June 2 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown.  The proposed structure emphasizes collaboration between the settings of the church and creates four ministry teams at the Conference Level:  Administration, Congregational Development, Leadership Development, Wider Church.  A 15-member Conference Board would replace the current Executive Council, and a Governance Team would replace the current Nominating Committee.  Geographic representation on the Conference Board would be at the regional level rather than the association level.  Suffolk and Metro compose the Southeast Region and would thus have one representative on the Conference Board.  Those who favored referring these recommendations back to the Executive Council expressed concerns such as lack of time to consider them, a desire to have Rev. Gaewski participate in the discernment, and whether the smaller Conference Board would adequately represent the diversity of the Conference.

David Losito presented the 2013 budget
David Losito presented the 2013 buget.

Recently gifts by NY Conference churches to Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM) have been declining more than five percent per year.  Reflecting this trend, the 2013 Budget forecasts a deficit of over $250,000 - a deficit that would be covered by withdrawals from undesignated endowments.  Delegates voted to accept this budget, recognizing their responsibility to seek increases in OCWM giving and support for other gifts to the Conference.



Our German partners presented shawls to our Ministry Team
Our German partners presented shawls to
our Ministry Team.

Representatives from our ecumenical partners - the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hesse and Nassau (Germany) and Mision Cristiana (Nicaragua) - were with us for the weekend and brought greetings on Saturday.  Our German partners emphasized the importance of building personal relationships such as participating in their Global Youth Village and having German ministers participate in the NY Conference ministerial gathering.  They brought shawls for the NY Ministry Team which were made by their Indian partners and worn at the Global Youth Village they sponsor. 


We renewed our covenant with Mission Cristiana.
We renewed our covenant with
Mision Cristiana.

Our Nicaraguan partners likened their work and the work we do together as bringing light.  In the chaos of the earthquakes and storms in Nicaragua, we are lighting the way to reconstruction.



Kathleen Norris
Kathleen Norris

Worship and biblical reflection focused on the Annual Meeting theme, "Refresh, Renew, Respond", drawn from Romans 12:2 - "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect."  Kathleen Norris was our preacher for Friday's opening worship and spent an informal hour with us on Saturday afternoon.  She referred to the scripture as "the little sparks that keep burning", repeatedly citing examples of the power of these beautiful words.  Associate Conference Ministers Freeman Palmer and Marian Shearer led biblical reflections on Friday and Saturday.  Palmer noted that a certain degree of conformity is important, but reminded us that Our Founder was a non-conformist.  Shearer noted the similarity between the NY Conference of 2012 and the Romans to whom Paul was writing and urged us to reach out to an entirely new generation, to new populations of neighbors.  Interim Conference Minister Rita Root was our Sunday morning preacher.  She asked us to follow Paul's lead and celebrate our diversity while remembering that we come not to ask what God is doing for us, but "what can I do for God and for God's people."

We worshipped on Friday and  Sunday at Binghamton First Congregational Church

We worshipped on Friday and Sunday at
Binghamton First Congregational Church.

Friday and Sunday worship services were held at the First Congregational Church of Binghamton; Saturday evening communion, led by the youth, was held at the Holiday Inn.


Rita Root
Rita Root

Interim Conference Minister Rita Root received a standing ovation (and gifts) for her leadership in the last two and a half years. 


Corey Keyes
Corey Keyes

Another standing ovation honored Moderator Corey Keyes for his skillful and good-humored leadership of the Business Meetings.  First Congregational Church of Binghamton (coincidentally, our host church) received the David Southard Award for outstanding global and local service which ranged from renovating church rooms to house disaster relief workers to providing items for needy children to giving generously to all five UCC offerings and OCWM.  We installed our new officers and honored retired pastors, newly-called pastors, ordination anniversaries and those who became saints in heaven since our last annual meeting.


Good food and good fellowship were meeting highlights
Good food and good fellowship
were meeting highlights

For those who relish walking, the short trek from the Holiday Inn, across the Chenango River to the First Congregational Church, was part of the weekend's fun.  For others, shuttles with friendly drivers were available.  Both the Inn and the Church provided bountiful and tasty meals.  And fellowship lived up to "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here."



Reported by Lucy Werner
Photos by John Werner and Lucy Werner

More photos available at Photo Highlights I and Photo Highlights II.



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