First impressions: Spectacular weather, amazing music, lovely gardens on the grounds of the historic Coral Gables Congregational Church, gracious hospitality, and learning a new word — “complexification.”
On the first weekend in May, lay and clergy representatives from about half of the Florida UCC churches met at the historic Coral Gables Congregational Church. Kim Wells and Lucille Ruga represented Lakewood UCC in worship, workshops, and conference business. A Friday evening reception at the parsonage home of the Rev. Laurie Hafner provided an opportunity for socializing in preparation for the next day.
Saturday morning’s actions included approval of the incoming Board of Directors, introductions of new pastors and conference staff, updates from the disaster response team, the plans for renovations of an existing conference property into the Conference Offices and headquarters, and approval of financial reports. After the keynote address by the Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President, UCC, which focussed on ministry in transition, participants enjoyed a barbecue lunch on the beautiful grounds, then gathered for workshops.
Lucille, at the program on the issue of hydraulic fracturing in Florida, learned how fracking has already been attempted in the Everglades area by pumping an acid solution (!) into the earth to dissolve the limestone on which our state largely rests. Fortunately, a vigilant Naples-area community successfully halted this exploration, but efforts by oil production interests are still a threat. The group agreed that our congregations will be informed, and must address our state leaders, on this latest attack on our fragile environment.
Kim went to a workshop on the arts. Participants reflected on the theme of covenant through drawing and poetry. It was very moving to hear the poems that people wrote expressing their impressions of covenant.
The business conclueded with the unanimous approval of two resolutions:
(1) to oppose the introduction of hydraulic fracturing in Florida and in support of renewable energy,
(2) to approve the formulation of a plan to consolidate the assets of the Florida Conference Endowment Funds that will be presented at the Fall 2015 conference gathering.
Conference Minister John Veritgan, who has recently come to Florida from the Indiana-Kentucky Conference, gave an address capturing his hopes and dreams for the conference before being installed in a stunning worship service that concluded the event.
To enjoy an awesome video summarizing our Spring Gathering and Installation of our new Conference Minister the Rev. John Vertigan, visit the conference website at http://www.uccfla.org