Worship and reflection
This year’s Charge Conference, held in the chapel on Oct. 16, took a different approach from year’s past.
While the state of affairs in the New England Conference, our district and our church were addressed and discussed, a large portion of the Charge Conference was a time of worship, led by District Superintendent Jim McPhee.
There was a gospel reading, hymn-singing and seven members of our congregation took turns reading scripture from Isaiah 40: 23-31.
This was a new approach to Charge Conferences throughout New England this year and followed the theme “On the Wings of Love: Powered by Presence and Service.”
To put an emphasis on the theme, Jim McPhee gave each participant in the Charge Conference a feather. With the feather, Jim explained:
“Feathers are fragile things alone, but when they work together, and in collaboration with the wind, they provide enough power to lift a bird to amazing heights. They are symbols for us today of how each of our gifts, given together and in collaboration with God’s Holy Spirit, are multiplied and given power.”
Participants were then asked to “share and celebrate the gifts that have taken wing in this congregation.”
- The concept of our building and grounds, including the woods, being a sanctuary, a place of peace and acceptance.
- We are a welcoming congregation for children, particularly ones with problems and challenges.
- The growing outreach of Judy’s Pantry, including the support of the church.
- Volunteers who continually help out at the Preble Street Soup Kitchen.
- Making the building available to the community for special functions.
- We have extraordinary musicians in this congregation. Faith York writes original music that people accept as a given, but they should realize how special it really is.
- The congregation pulling together for Julia Lamoglia’s baby shower.
During the open discussion portion of the Charge Conference, two issues were raised for the district superintendent.
- It was brought up that participation of worship in New England is the lowest in the country. It was asked, “What can be done? It should be up to the greater church to find us a new model — please tell the bishop to help us find something that will work.”
Jim explained that the New England Conference is starting new churches as “experiments.” He said the experiment is too new to provide any results, but that one of the models is a community group of young parents with new children who get together to discuss lessons in a non-worship setting.
- The second issue addressed to Jim was about the church’s relationship with gays. “We welcome everybody,” it was said, “but I wonder if that turns some people off.” It also was questioned whether the “big church” always meshes with the open door philosophy.
Jim responded by saying “All kinds of things are happening in church on this issue. Some clergy have been willing to marry same sex couples and haven’t been asked to step down as a result. This is a very active discussion.”