Written by Anthony Moujaes
The Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ is calling one if its own as its next leader. The Rev. Kent Siladi is the recommended candidate of the Connecticut Conference Minister Search Committee, which the conference board of directors announced Wednesday.
Siladi is looking forward to returning to the place where he was "raised, nurtured and spent my formative years," in an area closer to family and friends.
"It will be wonderful to be able to return," Siladi said. "I'm looking forward to working with colleagues, many of whom I have a solid relationship with already. The Connecticut Conference is a conference with a rich and deep history and a legacy of outstanding leadership."
He was raised in Stamford, Conn., as a member of First Congregational Church, and later pastored congregations in Brookfield and North Guilford. Siladi has been the Florida conference minister since July 2007, and was a former regional minister in Connecticut.
Connecticut Conference Board Chair Sara Sneed said, "We are enthusiastic in our recommendation that the conference call the Rev. Kent Siladi as our conference minister. We believe that he is the right person to step into this vitally important role with faith, experience, wisdom and sense of humor. He is the leader we need 'for such a time as this.'"
The conference's board unanimously voted to endorse the search committee's recommendation at its March 1 meeting. The board plans to issue a formal call in a special meeting to be held on April 20, when ministers and delegates throughout the conference will be asked to formally vote and extend a call to Siladi.
Siladi plans to begin his work by acclimating himself back into the culture of the Connecticut Conference, working with leaders and churches to address the current realities and challenges of the church. "The challenge of honoring the legacy of the conference and recognizing that we must work in new and different ways will be a challenge to some," Siladi said. "I will be working to encourage a culture of experimentation where we try new things together and where we work towards a new, emerging picture of what the church must become to be faithful, relevant and missional in this moment in time."
Siladi attended Nasson College, receiving his bachelor's in psychology, and Yale Divinity School, graduating with an M.Div. From 1997 to 2007, Siladi was a member of the senior staff of the Connecticut Conference before heading south to Florida. As Florida's conference minister, he is most proud of his work around regional youth ministries and older adult ministries, the reaffirmation of commitment to disaster ministries, the movement to become an open and affirming conference, along with improvements to the conference's financial systems and a new conference structure. The Florida Conference also hosted General Synod 2011 in Tampa under his leadership.
"I will miss most the opportunity to work with the dedicated staff and the pastors and leaders of the churches of the conference," Siladi said. "I am sure I will miss the beauty of the peninsula and the weather!"
In a letter to Florida congregations conference moderator Susan Cheney said, "For Kent, this is an opportunity to love to his home state and to be near his family... I ask that you keep Kent and his family in your prayers during this time of transition." Siladi and his wife, Laura, recently became grandparents. They have two daughters, Katrina and MaryAnn.