How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! – Psalm 133:1 (NRSVUE)
It was only for a day and half, but how very good and pleasant it was indeed to live, to dwell, to gather with our siblings in faith for the Indiana-Kentucky Conference (UCC) Annual Gathering this past Thursday and Friday. What a joy to worship and fellowship and engage in the work of the wider church with kindred from across the IKC and beyond!
As has been the case with so many regular gatherings, this annual coming together of the conference has not taken place in person for two years, which made this my very first in-person meeting with members and friends of the UCC side of our faith family. For the first time, I had the opportunity to gather with colleagues with whom I meet virtually every month to discuss the joys and challenges of parish ministry. For the first time, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow members of the IKC Justice & Witness Antiracism Task Force in person after over a year of meeting at least twice each month via Zoom.
In addition to these inaugural face-to-face connections, I celebrated the opportunity to engage with colleagues I had worked with years ago, reuniting with people with whom I’d gone to seminary and even one of my seminary professors (one of the keynote speakers who is now Eden Seminary’s President) and a treasured friend made through the Next Generation Leadership Initiative (a UCC-sponsored continuing education opportunity). I even experienced the blessing of engaging with Derek Roe (our former Assistant Minister for Children and Youth Ministries) and Rev. John Krueger (who has served this congregation thrice during times of pastoral transition). And, of course, I was overjoyed to meet new friends and colleagues with whom I look forward to engaging in ministry in the years ahead.
And, I was not the only one to experience this joy of connection. My 5 year old also had the opportunity to reconnect with a friend, a fellow pastor’s kid, with whom he had played only once before. But, from the looks of it, they had been bosom buddies since birth! The energy and elation expressed by these two kindred as they laughed and played and conversed was palpable and infectious. And, I rejoice and give thanks that my child had such an opportunity to continue nurturing such a life-giving, affirmative friendship.
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
While the next Annual Gathering of the IKC won’t come around for, you guessed it, another year, we have a multitude of opportunities to connect with our local family of faith. Kindred, I hope you will take advantage of the various opportunities we have to gather together in community with our First United family throughout this week with our Morning Café and Study on Tuesdays, 10am-11:30am; with Bible study (via Zoom) on Thursdays, 5:30pm-6:30pm; with Pizza & Play this Friday, June 10th, 5:30pm-7:30pm; and, of course, with worship, nursery & Children’s Learning Time, our Annual Meeting, and refreshments this Sunday, June 12th beginning at 10:30am.
May these opportunities for connection feed your spirit and give us all cause to rejoice!
See you there!
Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Cell Phone: 812-727-4414
P.S. I fully respect those who continue to join First United activities virtually and am in no way attempting to put undue pressure on members and friends to gather for in-person activities when they do not yet feel safe to do so.