Rev. David Moyer
2012 Annual Meeting Report
June 15, 2012
"Children of Abraham: Jews, Christians, Muslims". This title provided the theme for the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Conference UCC. With the Middle East constantly in the news and with religions often seen as part of the problem in a variety of political issues throughout the world, our theme was timely and important. Here's a brief report on the 2012 Annual Meeting:
- A distinguished panel, moderated by Dr. Peter Makari, Area Executive for Middle East and Europe of Wider Church Ministries of the UCC, spoke on the ways in which each faith approaches scripture. Panelists included Professor Charles Cohen, historian and Director of the Lubar Center at UW-Madison; Mr. Othman Atta, an attorney and the Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Greater Milwaukee; and Professor Karl Kuhn of Lakeland College
- What is the function of scripture, the authority of scripture, the nature of holy word?
- We learned that the Old Testament, New Testament and Koran have things in common. The Koran speaks of God as Creator and expects human beings to be "Trustees" of the created order. The Jewish and Christian shared texts such as Genesis speak of "Stewards" of creation.
- A second panel conversation took a closer look at a narrative that all three faith's share, namely the test of Abraham to sacrifice his son. There was much commonality in these stories from three traditions, but in the Islamic narrative, the son Abraham is to sacrifice is Ishmael and not Issac. The differences were fascinating, but the idea of a test of faith and different theological meanings that the three draw out of this common narrative was also a rich discussion.
- All three panelists and the moderator also led workshops that were packed.
- The Conference plans to celebrate our 50th anniversary next year, in 2013, but we did recognize that this year's meeting was the 50th official meeting of the Conference. The constituting meeting of the Wisconsin Conference UCC was held in the fall of 1962. We recognized three people: George Schowalter, Jan Davis, and Gene Krueger who were present and who had been at the organizing meeting in 1962.
- Business items for the meeting included:
- Approval of new by-laws for the Wisconsin Conference
- Ratification of the new unified governance structure of the national setting of the UCC. This proposal, creating one 52-member board of the UCC was adopted by the General Synod in 2011 and needs ratification by Conferences
- Welcomed the Portage Lake UCC or Houghton, MI as a member congregation of the Northwest Association and adopted a resolution to ask the General Synod to alter the boundaries of the WI Conference to include that congregation. We noted that at one time in our history there were three congregations in the UP of Michigan that were in the Northwest Association.
- Approved the 2013 budget of $2,012,824, with anticipated OCWM income of $1,659,354 and other income providing for a balanced budget. Expressed appreciation for the OCWM and special offering gifts of all our churches and identified and thanked 115 congregations which were "5 for 5" (met OCWM goal and gave to the four special offerings)
- Elected nominees to Conference offices
- Our Saturday evening is traditionally a time for entertainment, and this year's program was a treat! "Chance Allies" is a band put together by Rev. Tisha Brown of Community of Hope UCC, Madison. They accompany Tisha's singing of jazz standards, and they were great! Tisha has a website that talks about her new venture into singing and the band that accompanies her at tishabrown.com.
- Enjoyed a spectacular stage backdrop of Jerusalem and the stars in the heavens (part of the promise to Abraham was descendents as numerous as the stars), provided through the creativity and hard work of the Arts Committee
- The chair of our Board of Directors announced plans for transitions in 2013, as Conference Minister, David Moyer's, term ends next year, and he has let the board know of his intention to retire July 15, 2013.
- Heard Rev. Moyer's sermon at the closing worship in which he repeated a quote from famous theologian, Hans Küng: "There will be no peace among nations unless there is peace among religions. And there will be no peace among religions unless there is greater, more effective dialogue among them." He went on to say that it was time to take down walls between religions and also between political points of view. "Walls begin in the mind, and they often continue in the mind even after the bricks and blocks are taken down. Come to (the communion table) and leave the bricks and blocks of the walls in your mind there. Jesus will clean it up.... Take down a wall.................build a table, and come see how sweet it is when people dwell together in unity."