August 15, 2018
In a spirit of unity, community, and excellence…
Rev. Dr. Altonnette ‘Toni’ Hawkins
It is my distinct honor and privilege to serve as the Associate Conference Minister of Leadership Formation and Discernment in the Indiana Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ. This ministry work allows me to serve in areas where my gifts can be fully utilized to aid in the formation of new leaders and offer the ministry of presence during their discernment process. I hope that you too, can perceive that the Holy Spirit is active in both this call and the new staffing model in the IKC.
First, let me say that to date, conference work has been one of most rewarding but challenging ministry experiences in my life. As I reflect on my initial ordination paper written 18 years ago, I listed all of the areas I felt the Holy Spirit was calling me to serve in future ministry. Among my list was a call to be a pastor to pastors and support the development of leaders. At that time, I was not ready to fully serve in those capacities but felt a strong pull toward women’s ministry, which Divas for Christ Ministry had already been founded and the development of clergy peer groups with a focus on clergy self-care, which also was a part of the Divas for Christ Ministries’ mission. In addition, I indicated a desire to earn a D.Min degree, which I realized. Since there are many people who feel unsupported and unheard, even in the church, I also sensed a call to pastoral care and counseling. I believed that my skills developed over the years in major telecommunications companies were transferable and could be used in the areas of organizational development, leadership development, quality improvement, and change management for congregational settings. While my journey has not been without a struggle, I would not take anything for my journey; all of it has developed me for conference ministry.
Now fast forward to the present, where my journey has included a variety of leadership development opportunities at the national, regional, local, and across denominational lines. Over the years, my combined experiences and the leading of the Holy Spirit has shaped me as a compassionate but direct in my communication with people. I have a heart for God’s people, which has enabled me to be present with them in various stages and phases of their life and ministry.
Now let me share what I love about my work in this conference. I love working with people, guiding and supporting them, and helping them to get and stay connected to the still speaking God; but most of all, I love how the Holy Spirit works in spaces where there is no clear path or resolution. I enjoy facilitating groups, teaching, mentoring, developing new spaces for connectivity, contributing to process improvement and providing counseling and consultation, when needed. I have always wanted to serve as a pastor to pastors and am grateful for this
opportunity to serve in this Conference. Whether I am meeting with a local congregation to discuss ways of living into their call; or attending an Association meeting to promote ways to be more connectional through communication, collaboration, and honoring our covenantal relationships; or attending Committee on Ministry meetings to provide support and resources to their important work; and last but not least serving periodically on national projects that positively impact our Conference, I am the blessed one for the encounters with some I have
met and those I am yet to meet. I believe the Indiana Kentucky Conference is poised for transformative ministry that will positively impact us spiritually, numerically, and financially. One thing I have always known is that change is a constant; it is inevitable. Let’s embrace change to make a difference in our local congregations, associations, and the conference and beyond.
So, I invite you to contact me to share your ideas of how we can move forward together in a spirit of unity, community, and excellence to achieve our mission and live into our core values. The sky is the limit of what we can accomplish together when we effectively communication, collaborate, and commit to a spirit of unity and oneness through faith and the power of prayer. Eyes have not seen, nor have ears heard, the things that God has prepared for the people of God that make up the Indiana Kentucky Conference. To God be the glory for the things God has done and is doing, but the best is yet to come!