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It was so good to see people, to talk, to laugh, to hug.  Last week Katie Miller and I attended the Joint Annual Meeting of the Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota Conferences of the United Church of Christ in Sioux City.  This meeting was the first in person since June 2019.  So many people attending we hadn’t actually seen in all that time.  The event was a celebration of being together.

In 2018 we began this venture as the Tri-Conference, with the three state conferences working together in ministry with a central staff.  The transition has been bumpy, and this last year saw a number of departures from the staff, including the Executive Conference Minister.  One wondered if the JAM (what the Joint Annual Meeting is affectionately called) would be shadowed by tension or conflict?  But that’s not what I experienced.

Rev. Phil Hart, our Interim Conference Minister, opened his remarks to the meeting by describing how much warmth there is between the folks of the three conferences—“You care for one another.”  And we do.  I particularly enjoyed being together with the Reverends Kate West and Dustin Bartlett who were chairs of their conference boards at the same time I was.  We had worked together so closely, even if remotely, and it was good to talk, laugh, eat, and drink together.

The Tri-Conference remains in a period of transition.  We have to make significant cuts to our budgets, which will impact staffing.  Further restructuring is underway.  But every conference endorsed these steps with no serious disagreements arising.

Our Nebraska Conference business meeting opened by singing “Happy Birthday” to Pat Lamberty, who joined the meeting via Zoom.  After folks introduced themselves, they heard about the finances, asked serious questions, and then voted on the 2023 budget.  When we turned to ministry reports we heard about developments at camp and in youth and outdoor ministry, and there was a significant report about our work in Disaster Ministries, especially with so many major disasters locally, nationally, and globally in the last year.  Disaster Ministries has become a central aspect of our work together.  We heard about by-laws revisions underway and elected new board members.

When we were back in Omaha, Katie said, “I’m so tired, and I think it’s because I hadn’t been around that many people in a long time.”  I echoed the sentiment.

But, despite the tiredness, it was so so good to see people, to talk, to laugh, to hug.


421 South 36th Street, Omaha Nebraska, 68131
(Located at the corner of 36th and Harney Streets)






First Central Congregational Church