Convocation XVII (1997)



Saturday 4 October 1997, King’s Chapel House, Boston, Mass.

(1) The Clerk called the plenary to order at 1:10 p.m. in Little Chapel and proceeded to call the roll of churches.

(2) Present (number of clergy, lay delegates noted) were:

Permanent Member Churches: Barnard, VT: First Universalist Church & Society (0,2); Boston, MA: King’s Chapel(1,15); Charlton, MA: Federated Church(1,2); Chestnut Hill, MA: First Church(1,1); Deerfield, MA: First Church(2,0); Lancaster, MA: First Church of Christ, Unitarian(0,1); Malden, MA: First Parish Universalist Church(1,4); Providence, RI: First Universalist Church(1,2); Salem, MA: First Church & Congregational Society(2,4); Sterling, MA: First Church(0,1); Weston, MA: First Parish Church(2,4); Wilton Center, NH: First Church & Unitarian Congregational Society ((0,1). General Member Churches: Brookline, MA: First Church (0, 1), First Parish(1,0); Dorchester, MA: First Church(0,1, observers); Fenton, MI: Epiphany Community Church(1,1); Harrisville, RI: First Universalist Church in Burrillville(1,2); Jamaica Plain, MA: First Church(1,2, observers); Salem, MA: First Universalist Church(1,0). Observer Congregations: Barnstable, MA: Unitarian Society(1,0); South Natick, MA: Eliot Church(1, 0); Walpole, NH: Unitarian Church(0,1) .Congregational Christian Churches (Fraternal): Brooklyn, NY: Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims(1,0); West Warwick, RI: Riverpoint Congregational Church(1,0).

(3) The Clerk called for nominations for Council Moderator, and receiving Professor W.W. Park, Esq., of our host King’s Chapel, from the Treasurer, Mr. Lawrence Coburn of Weston with second by the Rev. Mr. George Anastos of Deerfield, he was ELECTED, unanimously & by voice vote (as all subsequent votes).

(4) Assuming the gavel from the Clerk, the Moderator called for the Registrar’s Report, which contained 70 persons registered, representing 24 churches, 12 member churches, 10 observer churches, and 2 fraternal churches from our sister NACCC.

(5) The Clerk moved approval of his 1996 Minutes of Convocation XVI (Salem) and Convocation South I (Red Hill, NC), which, after second by the Chairman, Mr. Peter J. Coccoluto of the host church, PASSED.

(6) Treasurer Mr. Coburn noted the Council’s ongoing request for at least $100/year/church from the members, and referred to the financial statement which showed a balance of $7652.92, with $3319.09 restricted to extant commitments, the highlight of which is the new Christian Church in Fenton, Mich. He presented the Budget � 9. (a) on the Agenda �, one light on the expense side, varying as it does with the activity level of the various committees. He moved the Budget, which with second by the Rev. Mrs. Andrea LaSonde Anastos of Deerfield, PASSED. The Chairman then moved a heartfelt thanks to the Treasurer for his long service in that office to the Council. This received many seconds, much applause, and PASSED. (He’ll conclude his service with this meeting.)

(7) The Rev. Mr. James E. Chase of Charlton (& the Coordinating Committee) nominated, with second, for two-years terms on the Coordinating Committee (he continuing in the only term not expiring with today’s adjournment): Mr. Peter J. Coccoluto of King’s Chapel; the rev. Mr. W. Scott Axford of Providence, RI; Mrs. Joan M. Hunt, M. Ed., of Weston; Susan Burchel, Esq., of Malden; Mrs. Susan Welch of Chestnut Hill; and William Shepard of King’s Chapel. The Moderator asked for further nominations without result, whereupon by consent nominations were closed and the above-names were ELECTED Trustees. They are to meet later today to elect Officers.

(8)(a) Old Business began with Hymnal Study reports from the churches: feedback on the Study Committee’s Report presented at Convocation XV recommending weekly active trial use of the New Century Hymnal (UCC) and Voices United (UCCanada) during the past year as a possible common Council hymnal.

The Rev. Mr. Chase said they found the Report very helpful in Charlton for their discernment process and in setting guidelines, although they were not able to sing from the hymnals as recommended; they have reached no conclusions.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Wintle of Weston said they�ve been singing two juxtaposed versions of the hymns and taking votes on them, and have come to recognize that rewriting nneds to be gentle, not wholesale as in the NCH.

The Dean, the Rev. Dr. Carl Scovel of the host church, reported on seeral hymn sings with two versions of hymns, from Hymns of the Spirit (AUA/UCA, 1937), NCH & VU. They found good tune resources, and no wholesale opposition to rewording, as well as no need that everything be “fixed”. They’re working on a monthly singing group to lead & teach the congregation.

Mr. Robert C. Crowell, Senior Deacon from Providence, RI, said they compared hymn versions after service, and they liked the original versions and weren’t looking for new versions of the same hymns. They’ve had some inserts of some newly-written hymns and there went OK.

Mr. George Anderson of Wilton, NH, said the rewording was hamhanded and they could see writing new poems, but opposed redoing old ones. (This drew applause.)

The Dean forwarded the option (now technologically possible) of producing our own hymnal using the copyright umbrella of such as CCLI, Inc.– though in the current legal climate we must be very careful, as “the days of forgiveness are over”. The Rev. Mr. Duke T. Gray of Malden said that LOGOS can provide this service. The Chairman said he would shortly comment on a new development along this line under study by the Coordinating Committee. The Rev. Russell Miller, Esq., of Brooklyn, NY, said they’re looking at putting their own book together.

The Rev. Ms. Nurya Love Lindberg of Fenton, MI, said they appreciated the Report, as they look for their first hymnal, observing also that a number of UUA clergy in Ohio are interested in hymns from our tradition which were dropped from the 1993 UUA Hymnal.

(8)(b)-(f) The Committee & Liaison Reports were available in writing, and they were supplemented (as needed) by the odd live comment. (8)(b)(i) The Chairman reported next, given his news of the above topic. He first thanked the Planning Chairman (the Clerk) for the successful Convocation South I at Red Hill, NC, which we hope will be a biennial February gathering in that region. He celebrated the two new churches joining at today’s closing Communion, given their votes and the Coordinating Committee’s approval thereof in September (Epiphany/Fenton & Burrillville/RI). He noted the duly effected & reported By-law change made by the Trustees allowing for churches not in the UUA to join the CXCUUA-Epiphany Community Church, for example, is not (yet) in the UUA, and wouldn’t have been able to join us today otherwise. The further thanked the Weston church for their hospitality for the C.C.’s three meetings during the past year. Then, he spoke of and disseminated materials from Providence House Publishing of Tennessee, who can custom-design hymnals in varying quantities. We could have a core 250-300 copyright-cleared hymns in common from church to church, while allowing for each congregation to choose the remaining 150 according to their local practice. The C.C. will take up this possibility and report back.

(8)(b)(ii) The Rev. Mr. Axford of Providence thanked Mr. Shepard of the host church for his extensive work in effecting the Convocation, reporting for the Planning Committee which has added to them & the Rev. Mrs. Anastos, Mr. Steven Merritt of Malden and Mrs. Molly Bachelder of Chestnut Hill. He called on Mr. Shepard, who thanked the Dean, spouse Ruth, Sid Hankel, usher & registrar, the Chairman, the Rev. Ms. Christine Jaronski, Priscilla-of-the-dishes, Aillard-of-lunch, Ms. Liz Barnet, and Mrs. Faith Scovel in the parsonage � all to applause.

(8)(b)(iii-v) The Moderator asked for supplementary comments from the Chairs. (iii) The Rev. Ms. Jaronski says the Seminarian Committee (joint with the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship) harvested 23 new student members for the UUCF, did a prayer workshop at Andover-Newton Theological School led by Executive Director & Minister-At-Large The Rev. Mr. Stephen Cook of Hudson/Marlborough, and will effect a mailing to entering Seminarians nationally. (iv) Mrs. Hunt pointed to the thorough Bulletin Board display there by the Christian Education Committee, and acknowledged the twelve topics given her by Mrs. Deborah Chandler of Red Hill last year, and noted the current work on Baptism & parents’ resources and their study of ecumenical Baptism documents.

(8)(c) The Ecumenical Officer (the Dean) reported his four annual meetings with Mass. ecumenical leaders which remind them of the CXCUUA. (8)(d) The Clerk summarized his NACCC report and welcomed their delegates that day. (8)(f)(ii) The Rev. Mr. Chase continues to meet with new Federated Pastors to remind them of the CXCUUA component of their UUA connection. (8)(f)(iii) Mr. Shepard, no longer of the UUCF Board, asked its President (& host church ordinand), an observer from Barnstable, the Rev. Mr. W. Russell Savage, for a comment, and he pointed to the pending Good News, which will evince changes he hopes all will like.

(9)(b) Under Other New Business, Mr. Paul Weisblatt of Charlton asked the delegates to think about better financial support for the Council as enabling, for example, enhanced Seminarian and Christian Education work. The latter�s Chair, the Rev. Ms. Jaronski, said they were not at present financially hampered, but they do think of what they could do if they had more funds and time. Mrs. Hunt of the former said that their Baptism workbook project will need funds. The Treasurer reported that at present only 9 Members Churches contribute, the amounts ranging from $25 to $700, and that some can do $100, and some can do more.

(10) The Planning Committee read a letter from the First Church in Chestnut Hill, Mass., inviting the Council thither for Convocation XVII on Saturday 3 October 1998, which was gratefully ACCEPTED by the assembled multitude. The Dean moved the Council’s particular appreciation of the morning�s Theme Presentation, “From Christianity to Theism: Who Dropped The Ball?” from the Rev. Mr. Joseph A. Bassett of Chestnut Hill, as one of the clearest and most thorough presentations yet made on our theological tradition. With second by the Chairman, this PASSED rousingly.

(11) The Moderator then entertained the always-cordial motion to adjourn, which rose spontaneously from myriad quarters, whereupon he declared the Plenary Session ADJOURNED at 1:59 P.M.

A true record.

Faithfully submitted,

The Reverend Mr. W. Scott Axford


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