Recently, at a hospice memorial service I spoke with a family member whose beloved had died in the last few months. He was curious, he said, about those who worked in the hospice field. He’s convinced, he told me, that these healthcare workers are different somehow from other people; that they are unique in the human race, set apart; and then he said something that struck me as both beautiful and profound.
“When I start to become pessimistic,” he confessed, “I think of hospice workers.” And with that I looked around at these people with whom I work and these people from whom he finds hope and inspiration. His declaration moved me.
I drove home that evening thinking about this conversation and about what kind of people inspire me, about those I think of when I’m in need of hope. And I realized that I think of people like those of you choosing to read the website of the NM Conference of Churches.
I think of the workers in communities of faith, both paid and volunteering, finding ways to provide comfort and connection during a year of quarantine throughout a pandemic. I think of tireless church leaders refusing to put down the mantle of social justice just because the halls of justice were locked. I think of young people marching in the streets demanding change and the elders who walked the same streets with the same passion so many years before them.
I think of clergy on their knees praying for guidance and wisdom in knowing how to lead when the church doors are closed and the flock is scattered. Of nursing home staff, of aides and nurses and doctors and other healthcare workers who masked and gloved and gowned up and went to work day after day, shift after shift, standing in the gap when families couldn’t be at bedsides.
I think of those who commit themselves to making the world a better place for all creatures and those who wake each morning seeking ways to be courageous and helpful and kind.
The truth is we are surrounded by heroes. And in the past year we have been shown heroic demonstrations all around us. And perhaps for me, I have witnessed this in Church more than ever before. In a time of closures and isolation, fear and uncertainty, I have seen meaningful acts of goodness from people of faith to connect, to comfort, to challenge, and to care. And it has been these acts and these heroes that have continuously kept me from falling off the edge into my own hopelessness.
I am honored to come into this position as the Executive Director of the NM Conference of Churches. I am honored to serve among people of faith in this state and I am confident that God is working among us to do a new thing together as we emerge from this difficult year. Please keep me in your prayers as I will hold you in mine and may we find the inspiration we need, all around us.
May we be able to say about those we know, those we work beside and worship with, those we recognize as people seeking to live by faith, “when I become despairing and am in need of consolation and a measure of hope, I think of you.” And more, may it be said by others of us.
You are the light of the world. Your servant,
Graphic Artist: Mapping our Churches Project
Data Clerk: Mapping our Churches Project
English/Spanish Translators: brochures and bulletins
Office Assistant w/ Internet Skills: building our ecumenical calendar
Heeding Jesus’ call to strive for
unity, justice, peace, and the integrity of creation,
we are people of faith ministering to bring healing and hope to New Mexico.
Two commandments guide our corporate lives as Christians: to love God and neighbor, especially our neighbors in need. The member churches of the New Mexico Conference of Churches firmly believe love casts out all fear; we are dedicated to heeding Christ’s call to strive for unity, justice, peace and the integrity of creation as people of faith ministering to bring healing and hope to New Mexico.
As we consider the implications of the medical crisis, we face difficult questions and choices. These are our guiding questions: How will our response be remembered by the next generation of faithful ones responding to the pandemic of their day? Will we be remembered for our love and ministry? Will the fruits of our compassionate service inspire gracious responses in the future?
Regardless what the future brings, this moment is a life-shaping experience for all of us: we may be victims, we may be helpers, we may be both. Because of the presence of COVID-19 in our state, we will be changed. With a common voice, the leadership of the New Mexico Conference of Churches commends the witness of our member congregations, respects their decisions to adjust corporate life, and prays for our state, our government leaders, all medical professionals, and the vulnerable -- the medically fragile, their caregivers, the fearful, those without homes or family support, the isolated and the forgotten. We are committed to loving God and serving neighbors.
Grace and peace accompanied by hope and love,
The Rt. Rev. David Bailey, Bishop Episcopal Church in Navajoland
The Rev. Earl Bledsoe, Bishop New Mexico Conference United Methodist Church
The Rev. Dr. Kim Fields-Haley, Regional Connection Minister, New Mexico/El Paso, Christian Church
Mr. Ken Gingerich, Moderator Mountain States Mennonite Conference
The Rev. Jim Gonia, Bishop Rocky Mountain Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rt. Rev. Michael Hunn, Bishop Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande
The Rev. Dr. William M. Lyons, Conference Minister Southwest Conference United Church of Christ
Elder Conrad Rocha, Stated Clerk/Executive Synod of the Southwest Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Santa Fe - Roman Catholic
The Rev. John Williams, President Rio Grande Mission Center, Community of Christ
The Rev. Dr. Kay E. Huggins, Interim Executive Director New Mexico Conference of Churches
Front Row L to R:
Elder Conrad Rocha, Executive of the Synod of the Southwest of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Reverend Jean Campbell, Deputy for the Episcopal Diocese of Rio Grande , Carolyn Good, Liaison for NM Church Women United The Reverend Tiffany Curtis, Deputy for Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)The Reverend Kim Fields-Haley, Regional Minister for NM and EL Paso, Christian Church (DoC) in the Southwest The Reverend Susan J. Quass, Executive Director (until 12/31/2019) The Rev. John Williams, President, Rio Grande Mission Center, Community of Christ The Rev. Adam Berndt, Deputy for the Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA
Bishop David Bailey, Navajoland, Monsignor J Bennett Voorhies, Deputy for the Archdiocese of the Rio Grande, Roman Catholic Bishop Jim Gonia, Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Back Row L to R:
Sharon Yates, Deputy for the Synod of the Southwest, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Bishop Michael Hunn, Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande Ken Gengerich, Moderator, Mountain States Mennonite Conference Judith Messal, Liaison Lutheran Advocacy Ministry NM Ruth Hoffman, President of the NMCC Board The Reverend Randall Partin, Secretary and Deputy for the New Mexico Conference United Methodist Church Elder Stephen Rhoades, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Santa of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Elder George Huggins, Treasurer
Our leaders know the importance and the challenge of ecumenical engagement; that is why they set aside days for sharing their Christian faith, for the mutual encouragement as denominational leaders, and for setting directions for the common work of the New Mexico Conference of Churches. This year’s retreat was especially significant as it coincided with the announcement of the resignation of the Reverend Susan Quass and the selection of the Reverend Kay Huggins to serve as the Interim Executive Director.
To initiate the interim period the Board decided to employ an outside consultant to facilitate a process of refinement of NMCC’s identity and purpose.
· Communicate: read and share our newsletters; like and share events posted on Facebook; contribute your ideas and programs to NMCC@NMChurches.org.
· Speak up: let us know how ecumenical and interfaith work happens in your local setting; we know there is significant collaboration throughout the state…but we might not know your perspective.
· Show up: the wealth of programs, workshops, services and gatherings are extensive; make a commitment to participate in one ecumenical or interfaith event every month!
· Volunteer: let us know your interests and skills; we will connect you to an appropriate network, congregation, agency or ministry partner.