Delegates to this year’s East Coast Conference Annual Meeting in Easton, Connecticut April 20th and 21st were Marilyn Anderson, Bev and Bob Freeman, Richard Laury and Diane Stevenson. Also in attendance were Dick Anderson & Rob Satterberg as representatives on the Conference Board, Howard Burgoyne and Alicia Sturdy as Conference Staff members & Andrew Sturdy as observer.
Pastor Chris and Rachelle attended Friday evening, having arrived in CT only the day before. Below are reflections of their observations.
We began on Friday with afternoon seminars, a meal and evening worship. Saturday morning, we opened with worship before moving into the formal meeting, led by Reverend Peter Tullson, chair of the East Coast Conference board. Marilyn said, “I found myself encouraged and inspired by what I heard.”
Two things noted by Rich, a first time attendee of the Annual Meeting, were “Bethany was the second largest church in the Conference in terms of giving to the East Coast Conference in 2011 and the largest in 2010. This shows me that we, as a church, are strong supporters of conference activities. And that the Conference is experiencing growth in more diverse communities and responding to more diverse worship styles.”
- New churches have been planted recently in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York.
- Regional “cohorts” of established churches are being started so that they can learn from each other and encourage each other in the best practices of maintaining vitality and mission.
- Church contributions to the Conference are solid.
- Pilgrim Pines Conference Center and New England Seafarers Mission are on the move in their vital ministries.
- During “coffee time” and the great meals provided by the Covenant Church of Easton, we enjoyed lots of friendly conversation with other delegates to the meeting. One hundred and twenty-seven delegates attended the meeting.
- Rev. Kreig Gammelgard joined the Conference staff on May 1st, as associate superintendent and Director of Congregational Vitality, which enables the Conference to broaden its ministry to potentially at-risk churches.
- There seems to be an elevated interest by the Superintendant in new church planting for the conference now, and it looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future.
- The denomination is sponsoring a new mission initiate “Covenant Kids for Congo.” You’ll be hearing more about this come September, but if you can’t wait, go to the Covenant Web site for a preview of the video.
- 2011 was a financial turning point year for the East Coast Conference. There was solid financial support from many Conference churches. If current trends continue, ministry plans can go forward and not be restricted by lack of funds as in the past.
- The sale of legacy church properties (Waltham, Plainville, and Cranston) has yielded almost $2.5 million, which is designated for future church planting. Most long-term Conference assets are under investment management by Covenant Trust Company.
- The East Coast Conference guarantees over $5.5 million in National Covenant Properties loans to churches and to Pilgrim Pines.
- The sincerity around being made to feel welcome is not just a “Bethany” thing, but it comes through loud and clear at the conference level, as well – the dinner, the workshops, worship and the business meeting. This shows us that as a denomination we are strong in fellowship and mission and keep our eye on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
To learn more about the ministry of the East Coast Conference and its churches, be sure to pick up a copy of the glossy “Mission&Ministry Partnerships 2012” in the church Narthex.