Guidelines for Cross-Conference Conversations

Dear Colleagues in Annual Conference Leadership:

Frequently we hear questions about what has been happening with the dialogues regarding the various reconfigurations of the annual conferences of the Albany Episcopal Area.  The answer to that is complex, because there are three sets of basic conversations going on – one between Wyoming Conference and Central PA, one between Troy/VT and New England, and the one that includes representatives from the Upper New York Area four conferences.  Each of those is at different stages. 
In addition, several larger groups are being formed from among the six annual conferences impacted by these transitions: one, Joint Distribution Task Force – dealing primarily with pensions and health benefits and related issues; one related to other matters of financial, administrative, and property matters; one related to both short-range and long-range issues of communication in a broad sense.  We are aware that other groups/boards have been meeting across conference lines, beginning to establish relationships and to communicate about some key concerns.  Some of this will be helpful for moving into our transitions. 
We are forwarding with this letter a cover letter and a page of Guidelines for all groups who are engaged in such gatherings.  The accompanying letter has been written by the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, a clergy member of the North Central New York Conference and the convener of the Upper New York Area (4-conference) New ACT Team, and it has been affirmed by the team to be sent to all conference leadership. 
These Guidelines will facilitate the dialogue that is occurring in various stages and at various levels.  We expect all such groups to abide by the guidelines.  We also expect that the emerging Vision and Purpose statements, which will be distributed as they are available, will inform the communications and the work that is happening across current conference lines. 
Before a group you are part of makes any decisions about future directions, it is important for you to be in communication with the bishop’s office, or with the Director of Connectional Ministries/Conference Minister. 
Above all, we urge you to be in prayer for openness to new winds of the Spirit of God as we seek not to be just something familiar but bigger, something new that God is doing NOW in our midst. 
Peace and hope, Bishop Susan W. Hassinger