Clergy Report: A Year of History-making, Joy, and Hard Work
In July 2018, we said goodbye to Rev. John Collins, a man of incredible faith and integrity who helped our congregation move through a difficult time. Throughout his ministry, John infused AHCC with love and humor. We closed out our time with him by going to a Yard Goats baseball game where he got to throw out the first pitch!
In August, a Task Force was formed to begin working on a strategy for growth. With the help of Fathom Consulting, a West Hartford company that believes “the future is worth fighting for,” the Task Force began to imagine a new vision, centered on the core principles of Inquiry, Acceptance, Impact.
The program year opened with great celebration on Homecoming Sunday with the proclamation: You Belong Here. Throughout the fall, Rev. Thompson and Rev. Avena, along with the worship team and the pastoral care team, continued to serve the congregation through rich and meaningful worship experiences and pastoral care opportunities.
In late October, the Senior Minister Search Committee announced to the congregation that they had unanimously chosen Rev. Erica Thompson to be their recommended candidate to become AHCC’s senior minister. Because this process was different in that Erica Thompson was an internal candidate, the Search Committee wisely opened up several meeting times for people to meet with her and Search Committee members to hear more about her vision for the church’s future and ask questions; dozens of folks turned out for these meetings proving to be time well spent.
On December 2, 2018, the members of Asylum Hill Congregational Church voted joyfully to accept the Search Committee’s recommendation – making Rev. Erica Thompson AHCC’s tenth (and first female) senior minister. This was a bold, historic move for a historic church that has always sought to be bold in all it does.
Erica’s installation was held on January 27, 2019 in what was a celebration for the ages. A spirit-filled, ecumenical celebration which brought in clergy and faith leaders from around the state, New England, and the US. It was a wondrous day for the church, one in which AHCC was reminded of who it is called to be: a church that leads and works for justice in our city, state, and throughout our denomination.
In February, AHCC’s new vision was rolled out through a sermon and worship series.
Inquiry – we are a place where you can ask the hard questions about life and faith; a place that will not pretend to have all the answers, but will journey with you as you seek.
Acceptance – we are a place where you do not have to “fit in” to belong; a place that is constantly finding new ways to lengthen the table, throw open the doors, and extend God’s open embrace of love and grace.
Impact – we are a place that believes diverse perspectives are necessary to make real impact in the world. Change comes by working together to find common ground. The adage holds true: “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far (make change), go together.”
The spring has been filled with lots and lots of activity! In late April, a Search Committee was formed and charged by the congregation to fill two open associate minister positions. In May, the Stewardship Committee launched a successful annual pledge drive: ALL IN! Thank you to everyone who has committed to being all in this year – we look forward to hearing from those of you who have not yet made a pledge.
None of this would have been possible without a talented and dedicated staff, both Administrative and Program Staff. They are the most amazing people around, and have a love and affection for this congregation that underscores everything they do. The other group of folks that must be lifted up are our lay leaders. Simply stated, we would not be where we are today without the wisdom, patience and hard work of Moderator Bart Halloran and Vice Moderator Linda Kelly. The church owes these two a great debt of gratitude for the countless hours, and the compassion, sensitivity, and integrity with which they led. Thank you does not even come close!
As we close out this historic year marked by the Holy Spirit’s creative and persistent work among us, we give thanks to our God for all that has been and look forward with great anticipation toward the bright future of mission and ministry that awaits. For at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, all things are possible!