Dear Colleagues in Faith and Ministry,
Allow me to begin with words of gratitude for your faithful care and presence to those whom you serve- in churches, specialty ministries, and in the world entire. Your steadfast work is astounding. I see you and thank God for you.
Last week I was made aware that Salem Reformed church in Hagerstown has been reaching out, via email and through the USPS in letter form, to churches in the area of Catoctin Association. I don’t know the distance targeted in the mailings, but I know at least one church received such correspondence. In the past, Salem Reformed Church was one of our sister churches in the Catoctin Association of the UCC and chose to leave us around a decade ago for the Evangelical Association.
Our connections as an association and wider conference/denomination depend on mutual communication, care, and support. I take those promises quite seriously. I understand that some of our churches live into theologies that might seem adjacent to the messaging of the wider denomination; but I also know bodies of Christ aren’t one dimensional but nuanced in difference so it makes sense that the UCC isn’t a “one note” denomination either.
In my humble opinion, the act of circulating invitations from a gathering of churches and people who no longer participate in the covenant we share is one of steeple-jacking. I am saying this plainly and it my personal point of view. To this end, I want to offer both cautions about these invitations and an invitation to conversation. If your church would like to engage in conversation around issues surrounding our covenant as an association, conference, wider church, and your local church, I am here to listen. I am asking for a seat at the table before larger decisions are explored or made with regards to the Evangelical Association or groups like them. As Proverbs 2:2 notes, when we incline our hearts toward open communication, our actions speak aloud of a desire for insight and understanding.
Thank you for your time and attention in reading this letter. I stand at the ready to listen.
With hope and belief that we are one in Christ Jesus,