Tara Conkling

Standing Committee for Communication & Information (three-year term)

Thank you for this nominating me for the Standing Committee for Communication and Information (SCCI). Originally from Pretty Prairie, Kansas, I grew up going to the New Jerusalem Church there, and even though we often didn’t attend regularly, our presence in the congregation was always welcomed with smiles and open arms. Many of our closest friends and neighbors have been Swedenborgians, and I have always considered our church members to be part of my extended family.

Leaving Pretty Prairie for college was my first experience of realizing that Swedenborgian churches were few, and often, far between, and the opportunity to attend one (in my tiny hometown, no less) was a special gift. In the years since I have lived in many places for school (Kansas State University (BS –Wildlife Biology/Biology), Texas A&M (MS-Wildlife and Fisheries Science), and Mississippi State University (PhD-Forest Resources-Wildlife)) and work (California, Utah, Texas, Kansas, Florida, and even Australia) in my career as a Wildlife Biologist, but I have only been close enough to congregations a few times to be able to attend a Swedenborgian church. 

Now living and working in Davis, California, I have enjoyed my couple of visits to the Hillside Swedenborgian Church, but the pre-pandemic distance (and the California traffic!) made more frequent visits difficult. The presence of the COVID-19 pandemic has both challenged our ideas of traditional church and at the same time provided the opportunity to expand our outreach and connectedness in this time of isolation, including improving the opportunities to participate for those of us without a local congregation. Thanks to Zoom, I have been able to attend local events such as church services and guild meetings with friends and family in Kansas, as well as participate in insightful denomination-wide programs, such as the Swedenborgians in Action Against Racism last fall. Although nothing is quite like the experience of in-person worship and fellowship, this past year has shown me the benefits that these (along with our traditional) methods of communication have in maintaining our sense of connection with others. I look forward to this opportunity to participate on the Standing Committee for Communication and Information to help continue these valuable efforts in our Swedenborgian community, using technology problem-solving skills I have gained through my research positions as well as my strong interest in technology to help grow our tech innovations. 

Profile details