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ANNUAL GATHERING – – Who, What, and Why?

Dear friends,

First a quick thank you to everyone for making our big day on Sunday a success. In the afternoon, we shared worship with some residents at Casa, and then we celebrated Pentecost with special trumpet music and five different languages during our regular 5 pm worship. I’m grateful to all of you who participated and helped welcome our visitors (among the visitors were my parents, who had a blast).

In a few days, Carol, Sue Ann, Larry, Kathie, and I will journey up to Sonoma State to take part in the 2017 Annual Gathering of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. That’s a mouthful!

You may be wondering: what is Annual Gathering, and why is it a big deal? Annual Gathering is the chance for every church to practice an important value: the value of covenant.

You may have noticed that we privilege autonomy in the United Church of Christ. Our local leaders make our own decisions. We don’t have to deal with a lot of hierarchy, or some church leader from far off telling us what to do.

But the flipside of this independence is the freedom to seek relationship with other churches and other people. Autonomy, in other words, leads to and empowers covenant. It has always been so among our churches — when they banded together to form some of our nation’s first colleges, when they stood up against slavery, when they fought for women’s rights, when they voted to ordain the first openly gay pastor in the United States.

Over this next weekend, your representatives of First Church will join nearly a hundred other local UCC churches. We will worship God together. We will attend workshops on a variety of topics including justice, music, church administration (I’m teaching a workshop on “Poetry and Protest”!). We will vote on four proposals related to the future mission of the Conference.

It’s easy just to be independent. It’s harder, and more valuable, to seek relationships that nourish and stretch us. That’s part of why we allot funds to have our church well-represented each year at Annual Gathering.

Pray for us as we do our best to represent this body of Christ. And look forward to hearing more, once we return!

Serving with you,

Nate

Rev. Nate Klug