Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kansas-Oklahoma Conference CM Stepping Down

Rev. David Hansen, Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ's Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, announced on Christmas Eve that he is stepping down on January 15, 2009. The following letter was sent out by e-mail:

A Pastoral Letter to Members and Friends of the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference United Church of Christ

Theologian Paul Tillich preached a sermon on sin and grace that remains his most famous and widely read sermon. The sermon was titled, “You Are Accepted.” Tillich begins the sermon by describing sin as the condition of separation and estrangement. Grace, he describes, as acceptance. To know grace is to “Accept the fact that you are accepted by that which is greater than you.” He concludes the sermon by saying that though sin and grace are strange words; they are not strange things. They determine our life. They determine the life of the K-O Conference.

The year 2008 has been a year of sin and grace for those of us in the K-O Conference. It has been a year of wonder, estrangement, struggle, and blessing. Given all that has happened, the Conference Council and I have agreed that new leadership is needed. Thus, I am leaving the position of K-O Conference Minister effective January 15, 2009.

I want to thank you for the grace-filled events of the last five years and for the privilege of serving as Conference Minister. Sally and I are truly grateful for your prayers and the gift of friendships formed and ministry shared. Let me name just a few highlights. The Conference welcomed two new congregations, celebrated three new church starts, and now has two conversations taking place that may eventually lead to new church starts. The Conference launched a new newspaper, The K-O Focus, and a new website. The Conference initiated, but not yet funded, the position of Justice and Witness Organizer. The Conference took courageous stands on important social issues: the right of all people to earn a moral minimum wage, religious freedom for Hawaiian inmates, standing in solidarity with the people living in the area of Tar Creek, initiating a movement toward becoming an eco-conference and a Fair Trade conference, and initiating a new Doctor of Ministry program in partnership with Phillips Theological Seminary. Conference partnerships with the Madhya Kerala Diocese of the Church of South India, and the Protestant Church in Baden, Germany are strong. The new Conference organizational chart is a work in progress begun in recognition of the fact that the financial realities of the future will demand that the Conference conduct its affairs in a new way in the future. The next two years will see the Conference living into this reality in ways that few have anticipated. I would like to thank the Personnel Committee in particular for their hard work these past several months as they help forge this path to the future.

White Memorial Camp has a special place in my life and in the life of the Conference. I want to especially thank Jim Power for his years of faithful stewardship of the camp and Ron Klein for his extraordinary work at the camp. The camp now has a new Executive Director, Sara Shaw. Sara is an incredibly gifted and talented woman for whom camp is both a calling and a profession. Under her leadership I am confident that the camp will become more fully a place to experience God’s grace and to nurture Christian life and values, if she is allowed to provide the leadership to which she is called.

The Reverend Dr. Kathy McCally and the Conference Council will make crucial decisions in 2009 that will to a large extent determine the quality of Conference life for the future. It is my prayer that in and through their work and lives grace may abound.


Rev. David P. Hansen
Conference Minister
Kansas-Oklahoma Conference
United Church of Christ

December 24, 2008

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