Joint Conference Vision and Development Team


PNE:  Rev. Jennifer Bannerman: Zion’s UCC Lehighton, Rev. Al Bastin: St. Paul’s UCC Trexlertown, DCM Rev. Dr. Bonnie Bates, Rev. Christian Creyer: Chestnut Hill UCC, Moderator Barbara Hanks: Grace UCC Northampton, Helena Lindquist: Long Swamp UCC, Mertztown, Vice Moderator and Co-Chair of the Team Rev. Joanne Marchetto: The Barn, Marlene Ruby: St. John’s UCC Coopersburg

PSE: Ed Bibic: Zwingli UCC, Rev. Michael Bush: UCC at Valley Forge, Rev. John Dawson: Schwarzwald UCC, Moderator and Co-Chair of the Team Rev. Barbara Pence: Peace in Zion UCC, Rev. Cydney Van Dyke: New Goshenhoppen UCC, Rev. Shawn Van Dyke: First UCC Schuylkill Haven, Beth Walker: Old First Reformed UCC, CM Rev. Bill Worley


The 2017 Annual Meeting of the PNEC and the 2017 Spring Meeting of the PSEC approved the creation of the Joint Conference Vision and Development Team to vision and develop a model of a new conference in Eastern PA using information gathered from both conferences to develop a new understanding of conference ministry, identity, purpose and mission for the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ in Eastern PA.


The timeline to vision and develop a new conference is to be completed by Fall 2018 so that it can be voted on by both conferences at a joint meeting. Should the new conference be approved it will be presented to General Synod 2019 for approval by the General Synod. This timeline is a guide and may change.


PSEC Co-Chair: Rev. Barbara Pence,

PNEC Co-Chair: Ms. Barbara Hanks,

Weigh in!:

Please join our Joint Conference Vision and Development Team for three ZOOM conversations over the summer. Each meeting will be meet from 7:00-7:30 PM.
  • June 18: What do you need, want or expect from a new conference?
  • July 17: What would it mean to be a fully inclusive new conference?
  • August 22: How will we include and value the racial and ethnic diversity in a new conference?
To register, download a registration form and email it to

What are we doing now?

(4/25/18) We’ve been asked multiple times why we’re doing this work of creating a new Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. The best answer I can give you is when God gives us an opportunity to create something new, you take it and see where God will lead us.

The JCVDT meets twice a month exploring the possibilities of the development of a new Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

PNEC Minister Bonnie Bates created a Lenten Bible Study with reflection questions that we made available to our churches on our PSEC website. We invited feedback from the questions in the Lenten Bible Study.

To encourage relationship building, we invited churches in both PNEC and PSEC to partner together in our Valentine’s Day match-up.

On February 10th, the JCVDT and POWER held a healthcare workshop at the Reformed Church of the Ascension in Jeffersonville (PSEC). We had 20 people participate.

On Saturday, February 24th, the committees on ministry from both conferences were invited to a workshop to share their best practices and to begin to think about how Committee on Ministries might work in a new conference.

A joint PNEC Board of Directors and PSEC Consistory Retreat with the JCVDT was held on March 2-3. At this retreat, the JCVDT shared its work, results from the surveys and town meetings, staff interviews and results from the joint Committee on Ministries Day.

Together, we discerned the possibilities of a vision, mission, and purpose (VMPV) for a new conference. We will also explore possible budget, structures, and foundations of a new conference.

These VMPV statements were shared at the PSEC Consistory meeting since most of the consistory wasn’t able to be present at the retreat due to the snow storm.  Two suggestions were given that are not reflected in today’s draft: Vision, Mission, Purpose draft.  Both are in the Values statements: the first is “to serve God with passion and our neighbors with compassion” and to add fourth value: to be committed to having the diversity of God’s children at the Table. These suggestions will be shared with the JCVDT for consideration.

These statements were also shared at the PNEC Annual Meeting held on April 14 and at the PSE Spring Association meetings.  Delegates were invited to discuss and share feedback and to also take the statements back to their churches to discuss and share feedback. The feedback will be shared with the JCVDT for consideration.

Following a discussion at the joint retreat on how associations might be structured in a new conference, it was decided to create an Association subcommittee to create a model or models to be presented back to the JCVDT.  The JCVDT is reaching out to other Conference merger committees to hear their experience around Associations. The make-up of the committee will include PNE members, and a representative from each PSE Association, some from their COM, and members of the JCVDT.

A staff structure and conference administrative site subcommittee was created.  It is the general consensus that a new staff structure should reflect the VMPV of a new conference.  Job descriptions should also reflect the skills and talents needed to accomplish this work.  We did note that all current staff persons would like to continue if a new conference is created. The subcommittee will work in conjunction with the Association structure subcommittee.

We took a brief look at what a merged budget might look like using a simple draft created from the budgets of both conferences.  It became apparent when this budget was presented at the retreat that it didn’t fully reflect the ministry of our conferences.  A budget subcommittee will be formed to look at our VMPV statements, staff structure and conference structure to determine a possible budget for a new conference.

Looking ahead, our conference consistory and the PNE Board came to a consensus that the JCVDT would do the work of creating a possible new conference with outlines of staff, association and budget structures.  These would then be recommended to the PNE Board and PSE Consistory for consideration.  Should these governing boards approve the structure outlines, it would then be brought to the two conferences for consideration and approval.  If approved, a resolution will go to General Synod for permission to change the boundaries of our conferences so that we can begin to live into these new structures.

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